Tuesday, January 04, 2011

MotoMorphic JaFM: It’s about ‘standout,’ not ‘speed’

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Think the MotoMorphic JaFM is cool? You can have one, provided you're willing to shell out at least US$100,000 and above for the bike...
Pics: William Ross

We wrote about the MotoMorphic JaFM back in June 2008, when we published the first few pics of Jim Davis’ radical custom bike on Faster and Faster. Now, MotoMorphic have released more pics of the JaFM, which, with its outsized tyres and comically outlandish chassis, looks as over-the-top as ever.

Davis says the ‘inspiration’ for the JaFM came from streetfighters, fat tyres, American muscle cars and fighter planes. ‘Along with the massive visual impact of the MotoMorphic JaFM, there is a balance and congruity to the overall design. Overall, the bike functions exceptionally well, as a radical yet eminently rideable motorcycle that makes an undeniable statement about its owner and his/her individuality,’ claims the bike’s creator.

Oh, well, there’s more to the JaFM than its styling. The engine, for one. It’s a 998cc DOHC 8-valve Rotax V-twin, mated to a six-speed gearbox with a slipper clutch. The engine produces about 110bhp and 90Nm of torque, which we suppose should be just about adequate for a bike that weighs close to 250 kilos. Top speed is in excess of 160km/h and MotoMorphic admit that the JaFM is more about getting attention rather than going very fast. They also claim that the bike’s fully adjustable ergonomics make it quite comfortable to ride.

If you want a JaFM, MotoMorphic will tailor make one for you, though with a base price of US$100,000 you’d have to want one pretty bad. The bike comes with high-spec components: fully adjustable Ohlins fork and Penske shock, Brembo brakes, Dynojet Power Commander III with optimised mapping and optional bits like carbonfibre bodywork and components, Ostrich or Stingray hide upholstery, various CNC-machined aluminium bits, stainless steel brake and clutch lines, wave rotors, a rear-view camera system and many other toys.

Here's a video of the JaFM in action...

For more details, visit the MotoMorphic website here

Monday, January 03, 2011

Münch TTE-1.2: Son of the Mammut

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The Münch TTE-1.2 won the 2010 TTXGP world championship and the manufacturer's title in the 2010 FIM e-Power race series. They are now preparing for the 2011 season...

Those who’ve been following the electric bike racing scene would probably know that in 2010, a legendary German company won the 2010 TTXGP world championship and the manufacturer’s title in FIM’s newly set up e-Power series. That company is none other than Münch, which was established in the mid-1960s by one Friedel Münch, who went on to build the absolutely outrageous Mammut TTS-E and, later, along with Thomas Petsch, the equally outlandish Mammut 2000.

You can read about the old Münch Mammut here, but this story is about Münch’s comeback vehicle – the TTE-1.2 racebike. The old Mammut was a pretty radical machine for its time, and by eschewing the internal-combustion engine in favour of an electric motor, the TTE-1.2 follows in its footsteps. The TTE-1.2 is fitted with a lithium-ion battery pack that powers its three-phase synchronous motor, which produces 90kW (120 horsepower), which is sufficient to push the 220-kilo bike to a top speed of more than 200km/h. The TTE-1.2’s range, depending on how hard the bike is ridden, is between 40-150km.

Münch have engineered the bike to exacting standards and they’ve fitted top-spec components to ensure the bike delivers very high levels of performance on the track. The TTE’s Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes and steel-aluminium spaceframe chassis (with 52/48 front/rear weight distribution) have all been extensively tested and optimised for high-speed performance.

The 40-year-old Matthias Himmelmann, the man who raced the Münch TTE-1.2 in the TTXGP and FIM’s e-Power series in 2010, is probably no Valentino Rossi. But he does having about 20 years of motorcycle racing experience. And he had some very capable people supporting his efforts on the track. In 2010, the Münch team consisted of Thomas Schuricht (automotive electrician), Marko Werner (automotive electrician and mechatronic engineer), Thomas Petsch (Friedel Münch’s erstwhile partner, hardcore motorcycle enthusiast, entrepreneur and owner of Münch Motorrad Technik GmbH), Ralf Ernst (handles administration, organisation, sales and marketing for Münch) and Stefan Stepputtis (finance). By winning the manufacturer’s title in the e-Power series, this small team was able to keep the Münch name alive.

Today, the TTE-1.2 is a pure racebike but with fast-paced developments in battery and electric motor technology, Münch just might be able to do a street-legal version of the TTE in the not-too-distant future. And then, in deference to the Mammut heritage, they’ll probably build an electric bike with a dozen lithium-ion batteries, six electric motors (with each motor producing at least 100bhp), two-wheel-drive, computer-controlled air-suspension and hubless wheels... :-)

Welcome back, Münch!

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For more on Friedel Münch and the old Münch Mammut, see here and here
Some Mammut pics: The Vintagent

Friday, December 31, 2010

Solomoto’s Motoczysz E1pc riding impression

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The Motoczysz E1pc just might be the future of high-performance motorcycles...
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‘I've got this thing I do to relax. I imagine I'm on my bike, and I just shift gears in my head. I did it just this morning in the shower. Then I caught myself – my bike doesn't do that anymore! It doesn't have gears. It doesn't even make noise. So I'm not dreaming in electric yet. I'm still dreaming in gas,’ said Michael Czysz, speaking to Motorcyclist magazine, when they interviewed Czysz for their November issue this year.

About five years ago, Czysz was working on the C1-990, a 990cc MotoGP prototype, which ultimately didn’t get a chance to get off the ground given MotoGP’s move to 800cc machines in 2007. The move also happened to coincide with a gradual, but steady, build-up of interest in electric bikes and electric bike racing. And Czysz decided to change tracks and build an electric racebike – the E1pc. ‘The change to electric was more about inevitability than opportunity. I realized almost immediately that everything we were trying to accomplish with the C1 project, we could do better with an electric bike,’ says Czysz, in the Motorcyclist magazine interview.

And indeed, Motoczysz did do very well with their electric racebike, with the E1pc winning the 2010 TTXGP at the Isle of Man. The Motoczysz E1pc is an impressive motorcycle all right. It is fitted with a DC, brushless, oil-cooled electric motor from Remy, which is fed by a pack of five lithium-polymer batteries and which produces 125 horsepower and a constant 343Nm of torque. The chassis is made of carbonfibre and the suspension comprises of a fully adjustable Öhlins shock at the rear and Czysz’s proprietary ‘6X Flex’ fork at the front. The bike rides on magnesium wheels made by Marchesini and the top-notch race-spec Brembo brakes (with monobloc radial-mount callipers at the front) provide impressive stopping performance – important for a bike that weighs 238kg, that can hit a top speed that’s in excess of 260km/h, and the price for which is estimated to be more than US$250,000.

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You want fast? The Motoczysz is fast. The battery-powered bike hit a top speed of 261.82km/h at the Bonneville Salt Flats in August this year...!

Spanish magazine Solomoto recently had the opportunity to test ride the E1pc, and here are some brief excerpts from what they have to say about this digital racer.

Visually, the E1Pc looks like a shark, with a genetic code that’s deeply rooted in racing. In the place where you’d normally find an engine, there’s the bike’s removable D1g1tal Dr1ve battery pack. You have to get used to switching it on. There’s no noise or vibration – just a green light on the digital instrumentation that tells you the bike is ready to go. Twist the throttle and the E1pc lunges forward like a compact 600cc supersports machine. The riding position is very sporty, with high footpegs and low bars. Just like a proper racebike, of course.

On the move, the E1pc’s power delivery is straightforward, clean and uninterrupted. Acceleration is similar to that of a 600cc supersports bike’s, and spinning at 16,000rpm, the E1pc’s electric motor makes a Star Wars-esque whistling noise that’s strangely pleasant. However, the bike’s weight – all of 238 kilos – makes it a bit awkward and saps the rider’s confidence at high speeds. The bike has tight, aggressive steering geometry, but the weight – most of which is due to the batteries – stops the E1pc from being very agile.

Electric propulsion has some undeniable advantages – it allows you to concentrate fully on your lines and lets you open the throttle while exiting corners, without the added complications of having to worry about shifting gears. Just open the throttle and go!

Michael Czysz is now working on the 2011 E1pc, which will be lighter and more powerful than the 2010 version, and will also have better software controlling the bike’s D1g1tal powertrain. As it exists now, the E1pc is a bit heavy, very expensive and as yet unapproved for street use. It’s also very quiet, smooth, does not require any maintenance, does not pollute and offers performance that’s actually very impressive.

Coming back to the Motorcyclist magazine interview, ‘The work I'm doing with this motorcycle might someday actually make the world a better place,’ says Michael Czysz. Hmm..., you know what, it just might!

For the full feature, please visit Solomoto
Pics: Motorcyclist
Watch videos of the E1pc in action here

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bang or Scream: Nicky Hayden speaks his mind

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"The screamer has its strong points," says Nicky. Umm... we agree!

2006 MotoGP world champ, Nicky Hayden recently spoke to Road Racer X about the 2011 Ducati Desmosedici GP11 machine. Here are some interesting excerpts from what the Kentucky Kid had to say:

On Ducati's ‘banger’ vs ‘screamer’ engines

The screamer has its strong points – it hits a bit harder and probably on top it has a bit more speed, but you’ve got to find the right package for eighteen races. Eighteen tracks and eighteen different conditions. That’s where the big bang is a benefit – the dirty tracks, slippery conditions, tight places – it definitely has a broader powerband and it’s easier to manage over a whole race distance.

I’d say right now we’re leaning toward the big bang, but we have to keep our options open. Maybe we’ll try the screamer again and make a final decision. They both have strong points and weak points, but it’s just a compromise of what’s going to work the best for all conditions for the whole season.

On 1000s coming back to MotoGP in 2012

Growing up riding superbikes and dirt track, I like the idea of the 1000s – I think those suit my style a little bit better. I didn’t come from the 250s, but I think with the electronics now, it’s not going to be like it was before when we were backing it in and spinning and sliding. I don’t think the 800s are as exciting as the bigger bikes were, but we’ll see. This is the last year on 800s [and] I certainly want to make it my best year – that’s where my focus is.

On whether the new-age electronics in MotoGP have affected his riding style

Well, a lot. You don’t really go against the electronics – you’ve got to use them, and it certainly helps to ride the bike smoother. People seem to think that if I could just turn them off, I could ride the bike faster, but that’s not the case. You’ve got to find the right balance, and they definitely help. They’re the reason you see all those guys standing around with computers, hitting buttons, because when they get them dialled in, they work. There are so many variables that go into it that you have to use those guys and let them help you.

Please go to Road Racer X for the full interview

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nembo Super 32: Inverted engine, anyone?

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As an engineering showcase, the Nembo Super 32 is simply fascinating...
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Why would you build a motorcycle that’s fitted with a 2000cc three-cylinder engine that’s fitted upside down? Yes, that’s right – an inverted engine, with the cylinder heads facing the asphalt. ‘I’ve chosen this particular engine architecture for both functional and aesthetic reasons,’ says Daniele ‘Titus’ Sabatini, owner, project leader and chief designer of the Nembo Super 32. ‘In current naked sportbikes, the engine is often hidden and in the case of liquid-cooled engines, practically soulless. It pains me to see the engine smothered under frames and plastic components. So, I thought that a good way to use an updated air-cooled engine in a contemporary naked sportbike would be to invert the engine!’ he adds.

Sabatini tells us that ‘inverted’ engines aren’t new and that they were used in various combat aircraft in WWII. However, the challenge was to use such an engine in a motorcycle, in a way that would combine form and function and that would keep things interesting.

‘I wanted to build a high-performance big-bore motorcycle, which would look ‘new’ but which would still have a classic and timeless beauty. The bike would have to be built with high quality metal and carbonfibre components and would be very light,’ says Sabatini, adding that he wanted to create a bike that looked like a proper motorcycle and not like a manga robot. Ahem.

‘Inverting the engine allowed me to achieve these results. The Super 32 is built around the engine, where the engine, by means of a super-compact crankcase that’s placed over the cylinders and the heads, works as the chassis, while the heads and cylinders do not participate in structural functions in any way,’ he says.

Sabatini claims his naturally aspirated inverted engine – the Super 32 Rovescio – complies with Euro 3 emissions norms and can be built in displacements ranging from 1850cc to 2100cc, with power outputs between 160-250bhp. The engine works as a fully stressed member, but the Super 32 also utilizes steel tube trellis frame components at the front, while the swingarm is made of carbonfibre. The bike’s dry weight ranges between 140-155kg, depending on the materials used and options chosen.

‘The Nembo Super 32 is at its early stages of development. The first two 1814cc prototypes are scheduled to be track tested in February 2011, after which I’ll start producing a small series of Super 32s, fitted with a 1925cc inverted engine,’ says Sabatini. ‘The bike is handcrafted in Italy by a highly specialized Italian crew and only a fifth of its components (wheels, brakes, forks and tyres) are bits that haven’t been designed and built by Nembo,’ he adds.

According to its builder, the Super 32 is the only bike in the world fitted with an inverted engine. ‘The bike’s architecture achieves our main goals of mass centralization, chassis elimination, extreme lightness (considering the use of a large displacement engine), great handling, and beauty,’ he says. And why not. We quite agree with most of what Sabatini says, and we think his machine is quite beautiful – not just to look at, but also as in terms of sheer innovation and engineering.

Nembo Super 32: Tech Specs

Front Suspension: 50mm USD fork with dual-rate springs, adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping

Rear Suspension: Air suspension system with adjustable preload and rebound and compression damping

Brakes: Brembo, 320mm discs, four-piston radial-mount calipers (front), single 220mm disc, two-piston caliper (rear)

Engine (prototype): Four-stroke, air/oil-cooled, three-cylinder, 1814cc, SUHC, 2-valves-per-cylinder, 160bhp at 7,000rpm

Engine (production): Four-stroke, air/oil-cooled, three-cylinder, 1925cc/2097cc, SUHC, 2-valves-per-cylinder, 200bhp/250bhp at 7,500rpm/8,000rpm

Transmission: Six-speed

Visit the Nembo website here

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.

Random Ramblings