Friday, January 14, 2011

15 essential go-faster tips from the Kevin Schwantz School

Kevin Schwantz Kevin Schwantz
The inimitable number 34, Kevin 'Revvin' Schwantz can teach you a thing or two about riding fast...
Kevin Schwantz Kevin Schwantz Kevin Schwantz

Despite winning only one 500cc motorcycle roadracing world championship (as opposed to Wayne Rainey’s three, Eddie Lawson’s four and Mick Doohan’s five...), a feat which he accomplished back in 1993, Kevin Schwantz remains one of the most popular roadracing heroes in the world. With his exuberant, all-or-nothing riding style and laidback, easygoing Texan charm, Revvin’ Kevin won over legions of fan worldwide in the late-1980s and early-1990s. And his popularity with MotoGP fans hasn’t diminished over the years.

Today, apart from the various other things he does, Number 34 runs the Kevin Schwantz School, where he teaches people to ride their motorcycles faster. Some time back, Motorcyclist magazine sent one of their editors – Mitch Boehm – to attend classes at the Schwantz School. He came back with a big list of things you must keep in mind if you want to ride safer and faster. We’ve culled that down to the 15 that we think are absolutely essential. Here we go:

1. Find and use reference points for braking, turn-in and apex

2. Focus your vision way out front

3. Select a gear that uses 60-80 percent of redline at the exit

4. Be loose on the bike and bars, not rigid

5. Get body position set for corners early

6. Hang off slightly – and comfortably – in corners

7. Use your legs to move you around the bike, not your arms

8. In the wet, be super-smooth with all control inputs

9. Ride with the balls of your feet on the pegs at all times

10. Ignore the rear brake

11. Don't apex early; late apex whenever possible

12. Apply smooth but forceful throttle exiting a corner

13. Brake in segments: first 10 percent (to settle chassis), then 75 percent (hard braking), then 15 percent (releasing smooth toward apex)

14. Passing tip: Let off the brakes sooner and carry a bit more speed into the corner

15. If you get in too hot, look where you want to go, relax and will yourself to make the corner

For the full list compiled by Mitch Boehm, please visit Motorcyclist. Also visit the Kevin Schwantz School website for more details about their 2011 classes

Kevin Schwantz Kevin Schwantz Kevin Schwantz
We can never really ride the way he used to, but these 15 tips from Kevin's school could well help us become faster, safer riders who're less likely to crash... 

The late-1980s / early-1990s is our favourite era of motorcycle grand prix roadracing!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ducati’s next-generation superbike to benefit from Valentino Rossi’s development skills

Ducati GP11 Valentino Rossi Ducati GP11 Valentino Rossi Ducati GP11 Valentino Rossi Ducati GP11 Valentino Rossi Ducati GP11 Valentino Rossi Ducati GP11 Valentino Rossi
Ducati recently unveiled the GP11 MotoGP machine. Technologies developed for this bike will also, ultimately, filter down to Ducati's next-generation superbike...

During the recent unveiling of Ducati's GP11 MotoGP bike, Claudio Domenicali, General Director of Ducati Motor Holding, said that Valentino Rossi’s development skills would also help Ducati with developing their next-generation superbike. ‘Ducati uses the MotoGP series not only as a venue for winning, but also as a laboratory for advanced research. Valentino is universally recognized as a master at taking a bike to its limits and also at providing feedback that’s extremely useful for development. We think this skill will give us a big push for improving our engineering, and to always give our fans the best bikes possible,’ he said.

‘Many of the models we’ve produced in recent years, starting with the 1198, but also bikes intended for less extreme application, including the Multistrada 1200, Streetfighter, Diavel, and Monster, boast technical characteristics that come directly from our experience in MotoGP – like traction control and aspects of electronic engine management. This will happen even more with the new generation of sport bikes that we’re working on now – bikes in which this link will be even more direct, from electronic management strategies to the chassis to the motor. We’re certain that the possibility of also having Valentino test our new models and give us his impressions will make this flow of technology even more effective,’ said Domenicali.

‘One thing that I’d heard about him but that I found to be even more true than I expected was his ability to analyze details in the bike’s behaviour and to describe them in an incredibly precise way. It’s very valuable because the rider is gives us considerable information that we wouldn’t otherwise have. The quality of this information will make a big difference,’ added Filippo Preziosi, General Director of Ducati Corse.

Preziosi also went on to talk about the GP11 MotoGP bike, which, compared with its predecessor, has a flatter and more useable power curve. Completely revised aerodynamics will mean reduced fuel consumption, higher top speed and reduced ‘lift’ at the front at high speeds. Ducati are also working on a new chassis that’s being tested for rigidity and flex characteristics, the suspension is being tuned and wheelie-control and traction-control systems are being optimised. ‘We’re working hard, but the atmosphere at Ducati is really nice, very electric and positive, and we can’t wait to get back on the track,’ said Preziosi.

Whether he wins the MotoGP world championship in 2011 or not, we’re sure The Doctor will at least get some good results with Ducati. We’re also sure the 1198’s successor (which will be fitted with a four-cylinder engine rather than an L-twin...) will be an even better superbike in every which way, since it would have benefitted from Rossi’s development skills.


The Doctor and the Ducati GP11 will, we're sure, be a formidable combination!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BMW S1000RR Turbo: The Wrath of Jack

BMW S1000RR Turbo BMW S1000RR Turbo BMW S1000RR Turbo
A turbo'd, 350+ horsepower motorcycle for the street? Hmm...

We don’t personally know Jack Frost, but we wish we did. So we could borrow his turbocharged, 350+ horsepower BMW S1000RR for a brief spin around whatever racetrack we could find. Based in the UK, Jack owns Holeshot Racing and is apparently the kind of man who’d never be happy with a motorcycle that only produces a mere 190 horsepower. So, of course, he’s bolted on a modified Garret GT30-71 turbocharger on to his S1000RR, which now packs more than 350bhp and is happy to munch on V12-engined supercars when it’s in the mood for a light snack.

Since the BMW is already brimming with very high-tech electronics that control a multitude of the bike’s functions (everything from the ABS to traction control to power delivery...), fitting a turbo and a revised engine management system couldn’t have been an easy task. But with his engineering expertise and Holeshot Racing’s equipment and resources, Jack has managed to pull it off, creating the world’s first street-legal S1000RR Turbo in the process. It wasn’t cheap though – close to £16,500 was spent on building the bike. New bits include custom CP pistons, Carillo conrods, Bosch fuel pump, Motec M800 ECU (and a host of electronics to go with that), an Akrapovic exhaust system and dozens of other parts.

Does the BMW S1000RR need a turbocharger and 350bhp? No, it doesn’t. A 350bhp streetbike is probably a bit like one of these burgers. Even if you love burgers, these would probably be a bit excessive, eh? But we still envy Jack anyway. Just for one day, what sportsbike enthusiast wouldn’t want to have a blast on a turbo’d S1000RR...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Francesca Miles: Model, musician and motorcycle stunt rider!


Francesca Miles Stunt Starz Francesca Miles Stunt Starz Francesca Miles Stunt Starz Francesca Miles Stunt Starz Francesca Miles Stunt Starz Francesca Miles Stunt Starz
She's beautiful and she sure as hell can ride a motorcycle. Chesca, you're rocking!

You look at the stunt riding videos and you admire the sheer talent. You wish you could ride like that and somewhere deep down you grudgingly accept that you probably never will be able to. “These stunt rider dudes really are something else,” you think. Only, in this case, there is no ‘dude’ in the video (scroll down for the video). It’s a 20-year-old girl. And, boy, can she ride!!

Based in London, Francesca 'Chesca' Miles is the UK’s only female professional motorcycle stunt rider. She’s only been stunt riding for the last six months but look at pics and videos of her and you’d think she’s been stunt riding for years. Suitably impressed, we decided to catch up with her for a quick chat. Here are some excerpts from what Chesca had to say:

On her company, Stunt Starz

Stunt Starz is a streetbike freestyle team based in London and consists of two riders – Alstar and I. We started the team back in 2009 as a two-up duo team, as I wasn’t riding then! After I came to learn on my bike, we became a two-rider team. We perform at live shows and gigs around the country and constantly work hard on trying to promote Streetbike Freestyle as a more recognised sport.

On the highs and lows of the last few months, since she started stunt riding

I have only ridden my Honda CBR600 for about 4-5 months. Haven’t been riding during the cold months. Therefore I haven’t really had long enough to say too much. However, I have found the pressures of riding do catch up. Being a female in this sport is quite hard. Females require a little more encouragement and support, of which I don’t really receive from others in my sport. That’s probably the hardest thing about it all, but just got to keep on going, no matter what. The highs, however… well, they are simply stunting itself. What an amazing feeling it is and a pleasure to be doing so!

On whether motorcycle stunt riding all about inborn talent, skills acquired through endless practise or sheer fearlessness

Stunting does take a proportion of talent, yes, but anyone can learn it, really. It is more about learning how to control your bike and not about trying to do things out of your comfort zone. It takes a long time to achieve each single step, but once you are there, it is very worth it! You do have to have an element of fear. That way, it will hold you back from trying to run when you must walk first – this makes for a better rider in the long run!

On whether the difference in physical strength, between male and female riders, makes a big difference in stunt riding

I don’t think it makes a huge difference but, yes, it does slightly. Having a 600cc machine to shift about isn’t an easy thing at times and I often find strain on my back and arms where I have tried to move the bike etc. Although, most of this sport is about having the machine at ‘Balance Point,’ and the bike becomes completely weightless when there. The more you keep it inside ‘BP’ the easier it becomes.

I don’t necessarily follow a regime for fitness as stunt riding itself tends to be just that. I do, however, do yoga when I train. That way, I can keep as flexible as possible.

On what her friends and family had to say about her decision to start stunt riding

My family, well, they didn’t really say too much to be honest. Although I heard muttering here and there that perhaps they thought it was cool and maybe dangerous, they never really said anything. They were not as supportive as I had imagined, nor encouraging. As for other male riders, some are highly fascinated and want to know lots about it (ha ha!) and others, well they are simply not very interested! But, the majority of men are highly intrigued by what I do, which is flattering to say the least.

On whether she’s a deeply competitive person

I am not really competitive, no. I did want to race motorcycles when I was around 14 years old but again I didn’t receive any support from my family so had to sell my RS125 to someone who’d be able to use it. I have quite a competitive streak when it comes to Go-karting though. I must admit, I’ve always had a little passion for it since I was around it most of my life whilst growing up!

On her work away from motorcycle stunting – modelling and music

I do modelling work on a part-time basis now. I used to model full-time but with the business, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everything and stunt riding is my number-one priority (apart from my singing). So, as for singing, I usually jam with my band a few times a week and we hit live music venues every week as well to jam. Music is my first love. I have been into my music and singing since I was very small. I had bands and live gigs from when I was about 10 years old. I manage to fit everything quite nicely around my schedule which is great but it is gradually getting more and more full!

On what really makes her happy

I will always sing – that is my main aim, to hit live venues and share the music with people, as well as acting. As for stunting, well, that too. I love it so much and it really is the way for me to de-stress and wind down. Those things together are definitely the careers I will never lose from my life. As for modelling, well, that isn’t something I really enjoy. It isn’t really me and just something I was pushed into at a young age. I would love to carry on a career within television and media.

On what’s her dream bike

Errrm, silly as it may sound, the Honda CBR1000RR is my favourite bike. I can’t answer why; it just has been since I was about 15 years old. I guess that may never die!

Some of Chesca’s favourite things:
Streetbike: Honda CBR-F / Kawasaki 636
Racebike: Honda CBR1000RR
Stunt rider: Jorian Ponomareff
Motorcycle racer: Valentino Rossi
Music: Jazz / Blues
Movie: The Green Mile / We Were Soldiers
Food: Pasta!
Drink: Pure orange juice / Tomato juice (with Tabasco, yum!)
Fashion label: Jane Norman
Holiday destination: Bahamas

Chesca Miles



Model, musician and motorcycle stunt rider - Chesca does it all
Francesca Miles Stunt Starz Francesca Miles Stunt Starz Francesca Miles Stunt Starz

We thank Chesca for taking the time to talk to Faster and Faster and wish her all the very best for her career. You can visit her website here and follow her on Twitter here. Please also visit the Stunt Starz website here

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