Monday, December 20, 2010

Rocket II: Supercharged 1000bhp Hemi V8-engined trike rocks our world

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The 1,000-horsepower Hemi V8-engined Rocket II is the most impressive trike we've ever seen!

Tim 'Frogman' Cotterill, metal sculptor, stonemason and landscape gardener by trade, has always had a thing for trikes. He first trike, which he made himself in his hometown (Knighton, Leicestershire in the UK), was fitted with a six-cylinder engine taken off a Honda CBX1000. That was more than 30 years ago, sometime during which period Cotterill migrated from the UK to the US. And for all those years, he kept thinking about what his next trike would be.

Finally, back in 2006, Cotterill found someone who’d be able to translate his dream trike into reality. This was the Blastolene Brothers – Randy Grubb and Michael Leeds – who’d already made a name for themselves in the US for creating some pretty outlandish cars. Cotterill would bankroll it and the Brothers B went on to build the Rocket II, the most gobsmackingly amazing trike we’ve ever seen.

Everything about the Rocket II is quite over the top, but we’ll start with the engine. It’s a 7.0-litre Hemi V8, with a BDS 8-71 supercharger bolted on for good measure, which boosts power output to 1,000 horsepower. Then there’s that hub-centre steering setup at the front, machined-from-billet front wheel, and a front swingarm that’s fabricated from ¼-inch steel plate and which features fully adjustable rosejoints that allow easy adjustment of wheel castor and camber.

The 1,000bhp Hemi V8 drives the Rocket II’s rear wheels via a three-speed automatic transmission. It’s an unapologetically loud and fast trike that can hit triple-digit speeds in seconds and get up to a top speed of more than 260km/h. With a rider on board, the Rocket II weighs in excess of 1,200 kilos and fuel economy is less than stellar – a stunning 1.2km/l. Then again, you wouldn’t build a 1,000-horsepower supercharged V8-engined trike for fuel economy. You’d build one as an ode to sheer excess. And as such, the Rocket II is just brilliant. We love it.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Paris Hilton launches SuperMartXé VIP 125cc motorcycle racing team

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Motorcycle grand prix racing has a new ambassadress – Paris Hilton

After perfumes, clothing and accessories, it’s motorcycle racing for 30-year-old Paris Hilton, who launched her own motorcycle racing team in Madrid yesterday. The ‘SuperMartXé VIP by Paris Hilton’ team will compete in the 125cc motorcycle grand prix racing world championship in 2011 and, no, Paris is not going to be riding the bikes herself. Sergio Gadea and Maverick Viñales, of the Barcelona-based By Queroseno Racing (BQR) team will be riding the bikes, while Christian Lundberg and Rossano Brazzi will handle the technical side of things.

Ms Hilton, who is part-owner of the SuperMartXé VIP racing team, is contractually obliged to attend at least five grand prix races in 2011, which gives motorcycle racing fans something to look forward to next year. Or not.

Pics: EyePrime

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If she likes motorcycles and motorcycle racing enough to buy her own racing team, Paris Hilton can't be all that bad. We hope her team does well in the 2011 season!

Mike’s Bikes: 330 Pro-Street

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We'd take any excuse, including the bike you see here, to feature that model - Tiffany - on this website. That lady is smoking hot!!

Based in California, 45-year-old Mike has been customising motorcycles for the last three decades. When he was 15, he started riding in the 250cc and then 500cc motocross and also developed a passion for customising cars and motorcycles. Mike, whose work has been featured in various magazines, likes to call his creations “ladytamer” choppers. He says his designs remind him of a beautiful woman's body, full of great lines, curves, long legs and packed with attitude. Ahem.

The machine you see here is the 330 Pro-Street and we think it doesn’t look too bad. Especially with that hot model – Tiffany – draped all over the bike. Actually, if we're honest, custom cruisers don't really work for us, but Tiffany sure does... :-)

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Mike calls his bikes "ladytamer" choppers. Er... yeah, well...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mission R electric racebike announced

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The Mission R features an impressive powerpack and is fitted with high-spec chassis, suspension and braking components. But there is no mention of range or battery charging time...

Mission Motors have unveiled their new electric racebike, the Mission R, which they claim is the ‘most advanced electric racing motorcycle in the world.’ The bike has been designed by Tim Prentice of Motonium Design and features race-spec components from manufacturers like Öhlins, Brembo and Marchesini.

The Mission R’s powerplant consists of a liquid-cooled three-phase AC induction motor that pumps out 141 horsepower and 156Nm of torque from zero to 6,400rpm! Now that’s definitely something no conventional motorcycle can match.

Mission Motors' press material goes on to describe some things that we don’t really understand – things like MissionEVT battery modules with an integrated battery management system, carbonfibre casing with dielectric liner, swappable architecture, 14.4 kW•h of total energy storage and MissionEVT 100kW controller with integrated vehicle management system, but we suppose it’s all very impressive... in a slightly mysterious sort of way.

The Mission R also features adjustable throttle mapping, regenerative braking, WiFi and 3G data connectivity (whoever would have thought you’d want that on a motorcycle!) and single-speed transmission. The RADD-designed chassis is made of billet aluminium and chrome-molybdenum and uses the powerpack as a fully stressed member.

Up front is an Öhlins FGR-000 TTX25 gas-charged fork that’s adjustable for preload, ride height, and high- and low-speed compression and rebound damping. Rear suspension is via fully adjustable Öhlins TTX36 monoshock and linkage system, and the single-sided billet aluminium swingarm allows linear wheelbase and chain adjustment. Brakes are races-spec Brembo units and the bike rides on 17-inch forged magnesium wheels from Marchesini.

Mission Motors do not quote any acceleration figures for the Mission R, but we do think those could well be very impressive. Claimed top speed is in excess of 260km/h. Since there is no mention of range or battery charging time, we guess the technology isn’t ready to go mainstream yet. In addition to power, speed and acceleration, things like range, charging time and price would also be important factors for regular sportsbike buyers, and Mission Motors might still be 2 – 3 years away from being ready with a street-legal machine that can be a viable alternative to a ZX-10R, GSX-R1000 or S1000RR. But that the street-legal electric superbike’s time will come, now looks increasingly inevitable.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Valentino Rossi slips to 7th place on SI’s list of highest-paid athletes


With an annual pay packet of US$35 million, Valentino Rossi is at 7th place on the list of the world's highest paid non-US athletes. So maybe he should pay for the next round of beers then, eh?

Last year, The Doctor stood at fifth place on Sports Illustrated magazine’s list of the world’s highest-paid (non-US)athletes. In 2009, Valentino Rossi earned about US$35 million and took joint fifth place on the list, along with F1 driver Fernando Alonso.

In 2010, The Doctor still took home $35 million but that is now only good for 7th place on the SI list of the world's highest-paid non-US athletes (Rossi is in 13th spot if US athletes are also included). On top is Golfer Tiger Woods, with an annual pay packet of $90.5 million, followed by Tennis player Roger Federer ($62 million) and prize fighter Floyd Mayweather ($60 million) in second and third places respectively.

However, Rossi still earned more money this year than NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($26 million), Tennis hottie Maria Sharapova ($20 million) and F1 driver Lewis Hamilton ($16.5 million). He also made more money than the publishers of Faster and Faster, who probably made all of $0.006 million in 2010. Here’s looking at 2011 now...

Via Sports Illustrated

Team Cycle World Attack Performance Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000: What lies beneath

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Team Cycle World's GSX-R1000 wears a Drudi Performance-designed red-white-and-black livery, which we think looks pretty good! Maybe Suzuki should do an official replica...?

The AMA claim that their Pro Racing American Superbike rules are aimed at reducing costs and establishing a level playing field for all racers. Cycle World magazine decided to go racing in the series this year, with Eric Bostrom riding a GSX-R1000, to see if privateers really stand a chance of taking podium finishes and even, perhaps, winning a race or two.

American Suzuki supplied a 2009 GSX-R1000, and Team Cycle World Attack Performance Yoshimura Suzuki decided they would participate in four rounds of the AMA Superbikes series in the US. As things turned out, Eric did not win any races during the year aboard the Cycle World GSX-R – a seventh-place finish was the best he could manage. Still, we thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at what exactly goes into a privateer’s AMA Superbikes racebike, and what some of these components cost. So here we go:

EMPro engine-management system (tech support for this comes from Yoshimura Racing, via its engine lease program, which costs $1,400 per race weekend), series-spec Sunoco fuel, Dunlop tyres and Brembo brakes, with billet monobloc radial-mount four-piston callipers at the front, which cost $2,605 each. HPK 320mm stainless steel brake discs at the front, which cost $660 each, and billet two-piston rear brake calliper that costs $1,876.

Two types of wheels are used on this racing GSX-R; five-spoke forged aluminium wheels from Piega, which cost $2,146 per set, and six-spoke forged magnesium wheels (that weigh a kilo less compared with the aluminium wheels) from Cattiva, which cost $4,125 per set. In 2010, most AMA Superbikes used gas cartridge fork kits (that fit inside the stock fork), which cost about $3,800 and race-spec rear shocks that cost about $5,500. Team Cycle World’s GSX-R1000 was fitted with Ohlins NIX cartridge kits that cost $1,320 each and Ohlins TTX36 rear shock, which costs $1,403 per unit.

So now you know what kind of stuff goes into an AMA Superbikes racer and approximately how expensive it is to go racing in a series like American Superbikes. Don’t know about you, but it makes us wonder what it would cost to campaign a machine in World Superbikes. And let’s not even think about MotoGP...!

The ready-to-race Team Cycle World Attack Performance Yoshimura Suzuki AMA Pro American superbike will soon be auctioned off, with all proceeds going to the Cycle World Joseph C. Parkhurst Education Fund to benefit the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation's scholarship program for brain-tumor survivors.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Atsushi Ueshima: ‘The BMW S1000RR is our main target!’

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Atsushi Ueshima (top, right) says that Kawasaki started developing the new ZX-10R Ninja before the arrival of the S1000RR, but admits that the BMW is now the bike to beat... 
2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja

Moto Revue recently caught up with Atsushi Ueshima, project leader for the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, and asked him a few questions about Kawi’s newest heavy hitter in the litre-class superbikes segment. Here are a few excerpts from what Atsushi San had to say:

On what was the primary brief for the new ZX-10R project

To be the fastest! That is always the no.1 target in the development of our sportsbikes. But we must also, of course, adapt the bikes’ performance for everyday use on the road. We wanted to make the new ZX-10R easy to control, especially in terms of its power, and to make the chassis very communicative. The traction control makes this possible, but even when disconnected, the engine’s linear power delivery remains very effective and allows the rider to keep the bike under control even at very high speeds.

On what were some of the most challenging aspects of the bike’s development process

The engine, and more precisely the power management system, which makes the engine’s power very accessible. Also, the development of the chassis – we focused on mass centralization and on putting more weight on the front, which provides a better ‘feel’ to the rider. We also worked hard on weight reduction, without compromising on the rigidity of the chassis.

On competition from European sportsbikes

We needed three full years to develop this new ZX-10R. Back in late-2007, there was no BMW S1000RR, so it isn’t as if Kawasaki have developed this new bike to take on the BMW. But yes, today the BMW is our main target!

On whether the ZX-10R’s 200bhp was one of the primary goals

No, we simply sought to improve performance as best as we could. That the bike ended up with 200 horsepower is just that much better!

On whether Kawasaki might return to MotoGP in the 1,000cc era

Yes, of course. This is a very important goal for the coming years.

On whether there will be an all-new ZX-6R, on the lines of the new ZX-10R

Maybe!


The new ZX-10R in action!

Via Moto Revue

EU Commission recommends mandatory ABS for motorcycles

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Regardless of the kind of bike that you may be riding, the EU proposal wants you riding with ABS. Which is just as well, we suppose, since ABS really does boost safety in a very big way...

The EU Commission has presented a proposal for new framework regulation for motorcycles in Europe, whereby anti-lock brakes (ABS) will be mandatory for 125cc and above motorcycles, from 2017. The proposal is currently passing through the EU legislative procedure and will likely be adopted next year. This year, only 16% of all new bikes sold in the EU were equipped with ABS.

By making ABS mandatory for motorcycles, the EU commission hopes to boost safety for motorcyclists. While a lot of bigger bikes have been fitted with ABS for some time now, the new EU proposal is looking to extend this safety feature to smaller bikes as well. German automotive components manufacturer, Bosch is likely to be a key player in this segment, since the company has developed an ABS system specifically for smaller bikes.

‘The ABS 9 systems for motorcycles are the world’s smallest. This is our way of encouraging manufacturers to install this life-saving safety system in all motorcycles equipped with hydraulic brakes,’ says Dr Werner Struth, President of the Bosch Chassis Systems Control division. Bosch began producing the new motorcycle ABS in late 2009.

In 2008, 5,520 motorcyclists were involved in fatal accidents in the European Union, representing 14% of all road deaths in the EU. Unfortunately enough, this figure hasn’t changed much for approximately the last 15 years, while the number of fatal accidents for car drivers has declined by a significant 49%. In fact, according to the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), the risk of suffering a fatal accident is 18 times greater for motorcyclists than for car drivers in Europe, assuming that the distance travelled is the same for both.

With a view to reducing cost, weight and complexity on motorcycle ABS systems, Bosch’s engineering centre in Japan has designed the ‘ABS 9,’ which is supposed to be the lightest, most compact ABS system for motorcycles anywhere in the world. Bosch, who’ve been making motorcycle ABS systems since the mid-1990s, claim that this is also the most cost-effective motorcycle ABS system available anywhere.

According to a study carried out by the EU, making ABS mandatory for motorcycles could cut down the incidence of fatal crashes for motorcyclists by almost 50%. Since ABS allows motorcyclists to brake very hard – without the fear of the bike’s wheels locking up and the bike sliding uncontrollably and crashing – even on wet and slippery tarmac, the safety factor definitely gets a major boost. Here’s hoping that manufacturers won’t wait for mandatory fitment laws and take it upon themselves to fit ABS on all new motorcycles as soon as possible!

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...
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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

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