Friday, December 10, 2010

Swigz Racing: Battery-powered upstart to challenge petrol-engined superbikes in 2011

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Chip Yates, aboard that battery-powered machine (the yellow bike), hopes to be able to take on the best superbikes in the world. He'll be racing in the WERA series in the US in 2011...

The 9th of January 2011 could be the day of reckoning, the moment of truth, for electric sportsbike evangelists. Swigz Racing, who claim to have developed the ‘world’s most powerful and technically advanced electric superbike,’ are saying that their machine will be the most powerful road racing motorcycle of any kind being actively campaigned anywhere in the world. And yes, that includes MotoGP bikes.

The Swigz electric racer, which will be unveiled on the 15th of this month at the Infineon Raceway in California, will race for the first time on the 9th of January 2011 at the Auto Club Speedway, also in California. Swigz claim that their machine will go head to head against conventional petrol-engined racebikes in a professionally organized roadrace.

‘We have to thank WERA Motorcycle Roadracing for inviting us into their series. Our electric motorcycle will compete head on with real racing superbikes such as the Ducati 1198 and KTM RC8 as well as other established manufacturers, and we expect to show the world that electric technology can achieve lap time parity with petrol superbikes,’ says Chip Yates, the bike’s rider and owner of Swigz Racing. ‘We’re not going on track to make up the numbers; we’re going out to compete in order to raise our game and catch up to these petrol guys,’ he adds.

The Swigz bike was excluded from the FIM and TTXGP championships on account of its weight. The bike weighs 266 kilos, whereas the weight limit for those championships is 250kg. ‘Clearly, these championships are more concerned with promoting scooter development. Our bike is so much faster than the electric competition that we feel far more inclined to push our bike’s unique technology platform forward in the ultimate competitive environment of petrol-engined bike racing,’ claims Yates.

With about 194bhp, the Swigz racebike’s power-to-weight ratio is already better than that of most 600cc supersports machines. And by January next year, Yates believes development work on the bike will boost power output to around 210-215bhp. ‘Our scheduled power increase will make our electric superbike more powerful than a MotoGP bike and will bring us extremely close to power to weight parity with the best 1,000cc Japanese superbikes. Those two facts are a simply outstanding reflection of the potential in electric power,’ says Yates.

In 2011, Swigz Racing’s battery-powered wonder will race at various rounds of the WERA championship series, at circuits like the Miller Motorsports Park, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and many others. Whether it can really take on the best superbikes in the world on equal terms, or whether it’ll merely turn out to be damp squib remains to be seen.

The Swigz bike undergoes testing...

Friday, December 03, 2010

Jaguar-Blandon jet-engine looks interesting for motorcycles!

Jaguar C-X75 Sir William Lyons
Sir William Lyons (top, right), the man who set up Jaguar in the 1930s, was also a motorcycle enthusiast. Could the new, lightweight micro jet engines (top, left) used on the new Jaguar C-X75 concept car (below) find their way on to motorcycles, sometime in the near future...?
Jaguar C-X75 Jaguar C-X75 Jaguar C-X75

Sir William Lyons, the man who set up Jaguar in the 1930s, was also a motorcycle enthusiast. In fact, much before he set up Jaguar and started making cars, he set up the Swallow Sidecar Company in the early-1920s, with the help of fellow motorcycle enthusiast William Walmsley. More than three-quarters of a century later, Jaguar have unveiled a jet-electric supercar concept, the C-X75, whose powerplant looks very interesting not just in the context of cars but also, possibly, motorcycles.

According to Jaguar, the C-X75, which was recently unveiled to celebrate ‘75 years of beautiful, fast Jaguars,’ can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds and is capable of hitting a top speed of 330km/h. With all of four electric motors – one at each wheel – powering the 4WD car, the C-X75 packs a massive 780 horsepower and 1,600Nm of torque. And that’s not all – the Jag is also fitted with two micro gas-turbines (yes, that’s two very small jet engines!), that are there to charge the lithium-ion batteries that feed the electric motors. Spinning at a heady 80,000rpm, the two tiny jet engines generate enough electricity to extend the car’s range to 900km.

What we find really interesting about the C-X75, in the context of motorcycles, are its tiny gas-turbines, each of which is no bigger than your average thermos flask. Jaguar developed these in partnership with Bladon Jets, and each mini jet engine weighs 35kg and produces 94 horsepower at a constant 80,000rpm. Now, we think that’s pretty exciting stuff. Can you imagine a GSX-R, CBR-RR or ZX-RR fitted with two (or three, or four...!) of these near-100bhp jet engines? The performance should be quite mind-boggling.

The UK-based Bladon Jets, who’ve developed these mini jet engines for Jaguar, say that this is the first time anyone has ever produced multi-stage axial flow compressors (the technology used on all large gas-turbines) on a miniaturized scale and to very high tolerances. ‘This has increased the compression and efficiency of micro gas-turbines to the point at which they can be viewed as a realistic power source,’ say Blandon.

Jet engines can run on a range of fuels including petrol, diesel, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and various biofuels. They also offer some advantages over the reciprocating piston engine in terms of having fewer moving parts and not needing oil lubrication or water-cooling systems, which also leads to weight-saving benefits. Also, turbines reach their optimum operating speed and temperature in seconds and can operate at a constant RPM, at which they deliver their optimum output.

We’re not saying we’ll all be riding jet-engined GSX-Rs and R1s next year. But the micro jet engines developed by Blandon are definitely intriguing in the sportsbikes context. We certainly hope some manufacturer, or at least some small volumes specials builder, will look into this and see if it’s possible to build a mass-market jet-engined superbike sometime soon!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ducati 1198S vs Ferrari 458 Italia. Again!

Ducati 1198S vs Ferrari 458 Italia? Hell, yes! Bring it on...

Earlier this month, it was Option Auto that did a Ducati 1198 vs Ferrari 458 Italia shootout, and now it's Motor Trend who've had a go with the two gorgeous Italian machines.

The Ducati, which has a kerb weight of 198 kilos, is fitted with an 1198cc L-twin that produces 170 horsepower. The Italian bike accelerates from zero to 160km/h in 5.1 seconds, does the quarter mile in 10 seconds flat and costs about $22,000. The Ferrari weighs 1,558 kilos, is fitted with a 4.5-litre V8 that produces 557 horsepower, accelerates from zero to 160km/h in 7.0 seconds, does the quarter mile in 11.1 seconds and costs about $230,000.

With machines as gorgeous as these, there can’t be a ‘loser’ in this shootout, but the video is pure entertainment.

Pics and video: Motor Trend

Saturday, November 27, 2010

2011 Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat: Orders now being taken

2011 Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat 2011 Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat 2011 Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat 2011 Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat 2011 Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat 2011 Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat
Confederate claim that the C3 X132's 2.2-litre engine makes "sufficient" horsepower. Well, for the $45,000 which the bike costs, we hope "sufficient" is how they spell 200bhp...

For those with US$45,000 to blow on a high-tech, beautifully made, super-exclusive muscle-cruiser, you can now line up outside Confederate Motorcycles’ office and place an order for the new C3 X132 Hellcat. An upfront payment of US$2,250 will secure a C3 X132 for your garage and your bike will be delivered by no later than the end of December 2011. Only 150 units of this machine will be built and 22 of those have already been booked, so your time starts now.

What, exactly, do you get for your $45,000? You get a bike that’s fitted with a 2,200cc twin-cylinder S&S Cycle engine that produces 197Nm of torque and “sufficient” (yep, that’s what they claim) horsepower. The powertrain casing is carved from a single-piece, 180-kilo block of aircraft-grade aluminium, the transmission is a five-speed close-ratio unit and final drive is via chain. There’s a 50mm fork at the front and Racetech monoshock at the back, both ends being fully adjustable for low- and high-speed compression and rebound damping.

Other bits on the 2011 Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat include Brembo brakes with carbon-ceramic rotors and four-piston monobloc callipers, 17-inch carbonfibre wheels, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamp and LED taillamp. The bike will be available in ‘Fighter’ and ‘Roadster’ versions, both of which will have different ergonomics.

Want to buy a Hellcat C3 X132? Go here

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kevin Carmichael: “The 2011 Triumph Speed Triple is easier to drift…”

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If you can ride even has as well as Kevin Carmichael, the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple may well be the best sportsbike in the world for you...!

For their January 2011 issue, Motorcycle Sport & Leisure spoke to Triumph’s stunt rider Kevin Carmichael and asked him what he thinks of the 2011 Speed Triple. Here are some excerpts from what Kevin had to say about the machine:

On how the 2011 Speed Triple compares with its predecessor

All around, it’s a much better bike. You can definitely feel more weight up at the front end, which enhances the bike’s handling abilities. The new weight distribution also helps me to perform stunts and control them; it’s definitely made drifting the machine a lot easier. Overall, you can still tell the bike’s a Speed Triple but it just seems a lot more focused.

On how the 2011 Speed Triple compares to other bikes for stunt riding

The Street Triple is undoubtedly the best stunt bike in the world and the new Speed Triple has a similar feel to the Street Triple, only with a little more power and slightly more weight. The brakes are phenomenal and the smooth, linear power delivery makes life so much easier. There’s a direct correlation between the throttle and the rear wheel, which is something that so many other bikes lack. Basically, it’s a world class machine and other manufacturers are really going to struggle to compete with it.

On how his stunt bike will be different from the stock machine

It will be exactly the same as the production model. I’ll even keep the lights in place because the weight over the front end really aids the performance. That’s a testament to how fantastic a machine this new bike is. I love it!

These excerpts are from the January 2011 issue of Motorcycle Sport & Leisure magazine. Please visit their website here

Kevin Carmichael shows his stuff on the old Speed Triple...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gisele Bündchen goes Max Max for DT

Gisele Bündchen Gisele Bündchen Gisele Bündchen Gisele Bündchen Gisele Bündchen Gisele Bündchen
Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen gets on a bike for DT magazine...

Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen has gone all Mad Max for DT magazine, who’ve featured Ms Bündchen in their October 2010 issue. Born in 1980, Gisele is the highest-paid model in the world and with about US$150 million in her bank account, the sixteenth richest woman in the entertainment industry.

Shot with Giese astride a Harley, the DT feature was photographed by Mario Testino, who seems to have gone for a stylised version of the grungy, post-apocalyptic look used in those Mad Max movies that we loved so much. We like the pics, though we do wish Mario had shot pics of Gisele riding an S1000RR or RSV4 Factory rather than a Harley. Next time, maybe...?  :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Motorcycle Photography: What it takes

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'Taking images of objects moving at speeds of up to 320km/h goes beyond what textbooks teach about panning,' says pro photographer Chris Martin...

Like us, you probably enjoy watching. Glorious, beautifully shot, high-resolution photographs of the fast motorcycles we love so much, that is. But we’ll admit we don’t often think about the effort, perseverance and sheer talent that goes into getting those photographs.

For their October 2010 issue, Master Photography magazine caught up with British photographer Chris Martin, who’s been shooting motorcycles as a professional for more than a decade. He’s shot pictures at various MotoGP races around the world, as well as BSB and WSBK events. He was the official team photographer for the Rizla Suzuki British Superbikes team for three years and official photographer for other prominent motorcycle racing teams as well.

‘As with other forms of photography, moving position can make all the difference to the composition and lighting,’ says Chris. ‘Taking images of objects moving at speeds of up to 320km/h goes beyond what textbooks teach about panning. I have found myself in situations where wheels and backgrounds are still blurred even when using shutter speeds in excess of 1/1000th of a second,’ he adds.

‘Another challenge is hand holding long telephoto lenses. I use a monopod ocassionaly but it makes it difficult to duck quickly,’ says Chris. ‘Most of my images were shot in raw mode and slightly overexposed to preserve shadow detail. The exposure was pulled back in raw conversion and the resulting JPEG was given a boost in the shadows, with less chance of noise creeping in, which gives the images more dynamic range,’ he concludes.

Umm… we’ll admit that we do all our photography (whatever little there is, of it…) with a Sony Cybershot, in full-automatic ‘Program’ mode. So we don’t completely understand what Chris is talking about. But we suppose most of it means that shooting good pictures of bikes travelling at very high speeds is bloody hard work. We’ll remember that and the next time we look at a photograph of The Doctor pulling a wheelie at 200km/h, we’ll appreciate the skill and the hard work of the photographer who took that photograph.

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