Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Moto Guzzi took the wraps off two new bikes at the recent Piaggio Group international dealers meeting in Monte Carlo. Piaggio group chairman and CEO, Roberto Colaninno unveiled the two bikes – the Scrambler and the new California – which Moto Guzzi claim are ‘prototypes offering a foretaste of the Eagle brand’s future product strategies.’
The new Moto Guzzi California ‘prototype’ is fitted with a 1400cc transverse 90-degree V-twin and Guzzi’s usual shaft drive. The new styling looks good and the super-sized seat should keep a lot of people very happy on long distance rides. Guzzi claim that the bike’s wheels, brakes and suspension are all new and we suppose these would all work better than the items found on the older-generation California.
The V7 Scrambler 750 is the other new Guzzi. It’s fitted with a 750cc transverse V-twin and... well, features all the regular ‘scrambler’ styling cues – spoked wheels, dual-purpose tyres, high-mounted exhaust pipes etc. We don’t really get scramblers and this one is no different – it looks a bit cheap and a bit pointless to us.
While we don’t like the new V7 Scrambler, we do think the new Guzzi California looks rather good. If we were looking for an Italian motorcycle that wasn’t red, very powerful and very fast, the California could well be the bike we’d have... :-)
Friday, January 28, 2011
Created by Japanese motorcycle specialists WhiteHouse and based on the Bimota Tesi 1D, the 1990s Folgore Bianca is one of the rarest, most exotic sportsbikes in the world...
Think exotic Italian motorcycles of the 1990s and the first machine that comes to mind could well be the Bimota Tesi 1D. With an engine from the Ducati 851, hub-centre steering setup and styling from another planet, the early-1990s Tesi 1D was as pretty much as ‘out there’ as it gets. And yet, for one Japanese motorcycle specialist shop – WhiteHouse – even the Tesi wasn’t nearly exotic enough. So, of course, they built their own take on it and called it the Folgore Bianca (‘White Lightning’), which has to be one of the rarest motorcycles in the world.
We suppose the Bianca’s styling may not be to everyone’s taste, but we find this bike quite fascinating. So we tracked down one Yoshi Ishiguro, who used to own a Folgore Bianca. A hardware engineer who’s now based in California, in the US, Yoshi tells us that the Bianca was announced in 1990 and released in the Japanese marked in 1991. He ordered his bike in 1996 and took delivery in 1997, paying the princely sum of 4.15 million Yen (US$50,000) for the privilege.
‘You could choose the body material (standard FRP or carbonfibre), colour and finish, and also opt for some other upgrades like an aftermarket exhaust, front and rear Ohlins shocks and FCR flatslide carburettors (to replace the standard electronic fuel injection!). I was told that some earlier models were made with factory OEM digital speedo/tacho combination meter, but these were later changed to analog units for reasons of reliability. Mine had analog ones,’ says Yoshi, speaking about his Bianca.
‘No specific tuneups and modifications were done by WhiteHouse unless specified by the owner, so the Bianca’s specs are no different from the regular Bimota Tesi 1D,’ says Yoshi. ‘During a casual conversation with WhiteHouse’s president, he told me that the Folgore Bianca’s total production figure was in two digits only. Since only 366 (plus fifty 400cc units) Tesis were ever made and sold worldwide, I'm assuming that a mere 15-20 were converted and sold as Bianca,’ he adds.
So, why would you buy one? What is it that makes the Folgore Bianca so special? Again, we’ll let Yoshi do the talking. ‘What makes Folgore Bianca so special is its fairing design. It was specifically made to reveal the bike’s state-of-the-art framework and front suspension system. The original Tesi design is very conservative and lacks impact. In my opinion, you have to have a ‘stronger’ appearance to justify spending more than $40K on one motorcycle, and WhiteHouse filled the gap perfectly,’ he says.
Moving on from its other-worldly styling, how exactly was the Bianca to ride? ‘The riding characteristics are not that unique as people often say. You can ride it as just like regular bike. But because of its rock solid frame and super-stiff suspension, it is not at all comfortable to ride on bumpy roads,’ says Yoshi. ‘I heard that some people could not get along with its hub-centre steering system, but I wouldn't take this as a negative point. It's a different system and has its pros and cons,’ he adds.
Well, we’d say the Folgore Bianca was beyond its mere pros and cons – it was (and is…) a work of art. We’ll freely admit we love 1980s and 1990s motorcycle exotica and in that context, the Bianca would be somewhere near the top on our list of ‘if only we could get our hands on this one’ bikes...
Picture copyright: Bikers Station / Yufusya, Co Ltd. / Yoshi Ishiguro / chang67
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Valentino Rossi riding a Ducati 1198 at the Misano circuit is just about as Italian as it gets – bust out the green, white and red colours already. Yesterday, with only a few days to go before he tests the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 in Malaysia, The Doctor put in two dozen laps around the Misano circuit, aboard a 1198. This was to check if he injured shoulder would be up to the task of handling Ducati’s MotoGP machine in a few days from now.
‘The shoulder is painful, especially under braking, when the front area hurts. Movement is stable enough and we’re also doing not so bad with endurance, but apart from that, it hurts a lot and isn’t very strong. Let’s hope it gets a little better in these next few days before the test in Malaysia. Once we’re there, we’ll work with the riding position in an effort to make the most of the situation and collect important information with the Desmosedici, even though I’m not in top form,’ said Rossi. ‘Today I did a total of 25 laps on the 1198 superbike, which is sort of a historic motorcycle for Ducati. It’s beautiful and fast. I liked it!’ he added.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Based in Aalen, Germany, Warm Up have built this special edition Z1000 EST. 1977 as a ‘tribute’ to Kawasaki Z bikes of the 1970s. While the bike remains largely unchanged mechanically, it’s been given a 240-section rear tyre, Akrapovic exhaust system, new handlebars that are broader and flatter than stock, and a green/black/silver paintjob that looks rather good. The list of mods is very long (see the full list here) but you can also buy individual bits from Warm Up if you want to spruce up your Zed on a limited budget...
Thursday, January 20, 2011
If you wanted to build a special that packed 200 horsepower and that could hit a top speed of 320km/h (200mph), what bike would you start with? Whatever bike you thought of, we’d bet it wasn’t the Victory Hammer, a cruiser fitted with a 1700cc, 100bhp V-twin. And yet, that’s exactly the bike that Roland Sands chose as the basis for his 200mph rocketship – the Mission 200.
Roland Sands sent the Victory Hammer’s engine to Lloydz Motor Workz for a host of modifications. Lloydz balanced and blueprinted the crank, rods and pistons, reworked the oiling system for better lubrication, ported and polished the heads, fitted oversized stainless steel valves and bolted on a Garrett turbocharger (with intercooler) to boost horsepower in a big way. And, as is only right for a high-performance bike, they’ve even converted it from belt- to chain-drive.
Lloydz have reprogrammed the bike’s fuel-injection system, fitted a power commander with boost control, and two secondary direct-injection injectors that work above 5lbs boost pressure. All of this needed more than 300 hours of work and the result was an engine that now produces 214 horsepower and a massive 328Nm of torque.
So now that they have a motorcycle with more than 200 horsepower, what’s next? ‘If you’re addicted to speed like we are, there’s a number in your head that you would like to get to. That number for us is 200,’ say RSD, on their website. ‘Project 200 is well on its way to being completed. We are aimed at an MPS (Modified Partial Streamlining) record and we are shooting for the 200mph mark,’ they add. We’re sure they’ll get there.
For more details, visit the RSD website here
The road to 200. Building a Victory V-twin cruiser-based special that's as powerful and as fast as a Hayabusa or ZZR1400 has to be pretty awesome stuff...!
In 2012, the KTM 990 Super Duke will be replaced with the 1200 Super Duke, while the Adventure will be made available in various engine capacities, including, probably, 700cc and 1000cc versions
The guys from Nieuwsmotor.nl recently visited KTM’s headquarters in Mattighofen, Austria, where they met with Robert Prielinger, who heads R&D for KTM’s streetbikes. And it was, apparently, quite a useful meeting since Nieuwsmotor seem to have come away with a fair bit of information regarding KTM’s 2012 bikes.
According to Prielinger, KTM will launch all-new versions of the Super Duke and Adventure bikes in 2012, which will be fitted with brand-new twin-cylinder engines. The 2012/2013 KTM Super Duke is likely to be a very high-tech machine, with a 1200cc V-twin and advanced electronics, including sports-ABS, traction control and ride-by-wire technologies. The off-road-oriented 2012 Adventure would be available with at least two engine sizes – 1200cc/1000cc and 700cc/800cc.
Next year, the KTM Duke 690 may be replaced with the Duke 700, fitted with a revised single-cylinder engine and revamped styling. There might also be a more expensive ‘R’ version of the Duke 700, with higher-spec components.
KTM, more than a third of which is now owned by Indian motorcycle manufacturer, Bajaj, will also continue to develop smaller streetbikes – with 125cc, 200cc and 350cc engine capacities – for India and other Asian markets. Some of these bikes could also be launched in Europe in 2012.
With Bajaj gradually increasing its stake in KTM, the two companies have started working in close coordination in the area of technology development. In fact, the 2011 RC8R even uses dual spark plugs in each of its cylinder heads, which is a development of Bajaj’s ‘Digital Twin Spark Ignition’ (DTS-i) technology. The two companies will continue to develop small capacity single- and twin-cylinder motorcycle engines for Asian markets, while Bajaj is also expected to introduce the KTM brand in India, which is the world’s second largest motorcycle market.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Most Norton fans as well as rotary engine enthusiasts quite love the Norton F1 RCW588 racebike (and the F1 Sport streetbike, which was based on the racebike), but not nearly as much as Tony Haywood does. While a lot of people talk about wanting to own a Norton rotary, Tony wanted one so bad he actually had one built!
Based in the UK, Tony was prepared to go to any length to get his hands on a Norton rotary. And when he couldn’t find a suitable bike (no surprise given the fact that the bike was only made in tiny numbers, back in the early-1990s...), he decided to have one built for himself. That wasn’t an easy task, of course, but he did get Spondon Engineering to build an exact replica of the original Norton racebike’s chassis for him. And he even got an original race-spec rotary engine from Norton, for his replica. Tony started with this project in 2005 and the bike was completed in 2009, at a cost of about £25,000.
Any which way you look at it, Tony’s bike is a phenomenal machine. It wears original Norton Racing Services (NRS) bodywork and its 1992-spec, liquid-cooled, factory-supplied 588cc twin-rotor rotary engine produces about 150-160 horsepower. The twin-spar aluminium alloy chassis, built by Spondon, is an exact replica of the original machine’s frame, and the 43mm USD fork and fully adjustable monoshock are from Öhlins. The bike rides on 17-inch Dymag alloy wheels, shod with 120- (front) and 190-section (rear) Dunlop rubber.
Acceleration and top speed figures for Tony’s bike are not available and we can barely imagine what this rotary-engined piece of exotica would be like to ride. The Norton rotary racer was pretty special in its day and a replica as faithful as this one – it’s pretty much the real thing itself – is just insane. All we can say is, we LOVE this bike!
Pics: Fast Bikes
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Forget the Germans, Italians and the Japanese - a company from the Czech Republic may soon start producing a V6-engined, 240-horsepower motorcycle...!
We don’t know what those Czechs have been drinking, but it must all be some really heady stuff. Back in 2004, Miroslav Felgr, based in the Czech Republic, said he wanted to build a motorcycle that was fitted with one hell of a big engine. He then started working with an engineer – Oldřich Kreuz – towards actually getting that engine ready. By the year 2008, Kreuz was ready with the engine, which turned out to be a 2442cc, liquid-cooled, 90-degree V6 that produces 240 horsepower and more than 200Nm of torque. Estimated mileage is 12-16km/l - not too bad for the biggest, most powerful (?) normally-aspirated motorcycle engine in the world.
Moto FGR’s V6 motorcycle project is supported by the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce. With their help, FGR invited aspiring motorcycle designers to design a motorcycle that would be fitted with the aforementioned V6 engine. According to the information available on the company’s website, as many as 45 people participated in the design competition and the winner was one Stanislav Hanuš, who is responsible for the prototype bike you see here.
FGR have been testing this Midalu 2500 V6 prototype for about a year and provided they can continue to finance the project (and, hopefully, identify a sufficient number of prospective buyers…), they might go on to put this machine into limited production. A V6-engined, 240bhp motorcycle from the Czech Republic? Hell, yes! After all, for a country that’s produced all these supermodels, how bad can they be with high-performance motorcycles…
Hints of the Ducati Diavel and Monster, and the Benelli TNT Cafe Racer? Whatever, the FGR Midalu looks quite all right. And with its 2.5-litre, 240bhp V6, it should kick arse...
Visit the Moto FGR website here
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