Wednesday, February 09, 2011

2011 Zero S announced, still isn’t convincing enough

The new Zero S is interesting from a purely technological point of view, but when it comes to actually plonking down your hard-earned money for a motorcycle, we don't know if you'd want one

Zero Motorcycles have announced their new lineup of electric motorcycles for 2011. The Zero S, DS, X and MX models have all been tweaked and improved for 2011. Of these, we find the Zero S most interesting, so we’ll only talk about that. The bike is fitted with Zero’s proprietary ‘Z-Force’ powerpack, twin-spar aluminium alloy frame, a new, maintenance-free belt drive system and clutchless, single-speed transmission. Zero have also given the bike what they claim is a “complete systems upgrade,” which includes a quick-charge option that cuts charging time in half.

The Zero S’ powerpack includes a compact electric motor that produces enough juice to propel the bike to a top speed of 108km/h. Charging time for the S’ lithium-ion battery pack is four hours, though a 90% charge takes only two hours. Also, the batteries can be fully charged in just 2.3 hours using the optional quick charge feature. Maximum range, with the batteries fully charged, is 93km. Estimated life for the batteries is 112,000km.

The 2011 Zero S rides on 17-inch wheels shod with 110/70 (front) and 130/70 (rear) rubber. Disc brakes are fitted at both ends, with a 310mm disc at the front and 220mm disc at the back. The rear shock is adjustable for preload and the bike’s kerb weight is just 135 kilos.

Priced at US$10,000, the 2011 Zero S still isn’t for everybody. On a cost-versus-performance basis, the Zero S doesn’t have anything going for it. And while electric bikes don’t emit any noxious gasses (definitely a good thing for the planet), we believe the large-scale production of batteries and electric motors would still have a significant (and mostly negative) impact on the environment, and that impact remains to be studied and fully understood.

For more details of the complete Zero motorcycles lineup for 2011, including the DS, X and MX models, visit their website here

The 2011 Zero S costs US$10,000 and has a top speed of 108km/h

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Motorcycle Mayhem: The Best of Mad Max

For fans of the 1979 cult classic, Mad Max, here's some of the very best motorcycle footage from that great film. It's from the days when electronics usually meant a pocket calculator. And chain smoking, hard drinking and chasing women was probably all right. What fun!  :-D

Friday, February 04, 2011

Supercharged Kawasaki ZX-10R: Crank up the boost!

With a claimed 40-50% power hike, the A&A supercharger kit for the Kawasaki ZX-10R is serious stuff. In a straight line, you don't want to go up against this bike!

We suppose they aren’t the most practical thing in motorcycling, but there’s something about the sheer drama of a supercharger bolted on to a powerful motorcycle that we simply love. Now, one of our all-time favourite litre-class superbikes is the 2004-05 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, which was a bit raw and wild and completely out there. So when someone decides to bolt on a supercharger to the Ninja, the result absolutely has to be featured here on Faster and Faster.

Based in the US, A&A Performance are supercharger specialists for bikes and they have developed a supercharger kit for the 2004-spec Kawasaki ZX-10R. The kit consists of a Rotrex C15-60 centrifugal supercharger that runs 8psi of boost, Gates PowerGrip GT2 synchronous belt, Walbro high-flow fuel pump, high-strength crankshaft interconnect, K&N filters, NGK Iridium sparkplugs and a custom fuel map for the fuel-injection system.

‘Without changing any major internals, you can have a bike that will significantly outpace the brand new crop of litre-bikes and pretty much anything else you come across, for around one-third the cost of a new machine. Best of all, you retain all the rideability you currently enjoy, but with way more oomph should you feel the urge,’ says the A&A website, and we’re quite inclined to believe them. All right, the supercharged 2004 Ninja might not be able to live with a stock 2011 ZX-10R on the racetrack, but on the street, in a straight line, the supercharged bike is likely to kick ass.

‘This kit is not some thrown together mess of parts; it is a thoroughly engineered, road tested and tuned system that will increase the power of your bike by a legitimate 40-50%,’ claim A&A. ‘While the power produced is remarkably controllable, the instant nature of the throttle response and the never-ending power supply means that beginner riders need not apply. And thanks to the vacuum operated bypass valve, part throttle cruising and light acceleration are unchanged from stock and mileage is only affected under heavy acceleration,’ they add.

The A&A supercharger kit for the ZX-10R is priced at a rather reasonable $4,300 and if you want to order one, you can get more details about it here

The supercharged Kawasaki Ninja sure sounds good!

2011 litre-class superbike shootout!

You know the GSX-R1000, Fireblade and R1 are going to be bit players. The BMW S1000RR and the new Kawasaki ZX-10R are the big guns here. But which one comes out on top...?

Source: MCN

Ducati Diavel: Full specs, high-res pics, video

The Ducati Diavel is the motorcycle to buy if you have a hot girlfriend to show off to the world...

Ducati have released some more details and tech specs as well as some new pics of the Diavel, which the Italian company claims is ‘the new shape of power and style.’ ‘Custom shop beauty, state-of-the-art technology, innovative design and extraordinary riding pleasure are masterfully blended into the Diavel, a motorcycle destined to shape the future, a motorcycle built by people who have earned the right to change the rules,’ say the PR men at Ducati.

The Diavel weighs 207 kilos, its high-tech L-twin (based on 1198’s Testastretta Evoluzione, but significantly modified for the Diavel...) produces 162 horsepower and 127Nm of torque, and its 240-section Pirelli rear tyre threatens to steamroll the bike’s detractors into submission. Ducati claim that their chassis technology ‘serves up mind-blowing handling and lean angles which defy the laws of physics,’ though we suppose the 1198SP shouldn’t have anything to fear just yet.

‘If the stance of a Streetfigher is that of ‘anger,’ the stance of the Diavel is that of readiness, dominance, and confidence bordering on superiority,’ says the Ducati press release. Hmmm..., we don’t really know what to make of the Diavel. We’d still have an 1198SP, but that’s just us. We’re sure there would also be a significant number of people who’d love the Diavel and who would be happy to ride this machine. And why not? The Diavel looks a chunk more comfortable than a 1198, you can ride 24,000km between each major service, and advanced electronics like ABS, ride-by-wire throttle control and DTC traction-control should make the bike safe and easy to ride.

There’s one more thing. Our no.1 motorcycling fantasy is still getting to ride a 1198SP (or S1000RR, or RSV4 Factory APRC SE or 2011 ZX-10R) flat out around a deserted high-speed circuit in some remote corner of the world. On a sunny Sunday morning. But if we were riding across Europe, with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as our pillion seat passenger, we’d probably just want something like the VMAX or Diavel...

Would we take the Diavel over the 1198SP? If we had Ms Huntington-Whiteley riding with us on the back seat, then probably yes...!

Ducati Diavel: Tech specs
Engine: 1198cc, Testastretta 11° Desmodromic liquid-cooled L-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder
Power: 162bhp at 9,500rpm
Torque: 127.5Nm at 8,000rpm
Fuel injection: Mitsubishi electronic fuel injection system, Mikuni elliptical throttle bodies with Ride-by-Wire
Gearbox: Six speed
Clutch: Wet, multiplate clutch with hydraulic control, Selfservo action on drive, slipper action on over-run
Chassis: Tubular steel trellis frame
Front suspension: 50mm Marzocchi USD fork, fully adjustable
Rear suspension: Progressive linkage with fully adjustable Sachs monoshock, aluminium single-sided swingarm
Wheels: Forged and machined light alloy 17-inch Marchesini
Tyres: 120/70 ZR17 (front), 240/45 ZR17 (rear) Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Front brake: 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Monobloc Brembo callipers, 4-piston with ABS
Rear brake: 265mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper with ABS
Dry weight: 210kg
Warranty: 2 years unlimited mileage

MCN's Ducati Diavel riding impression...

All you ever wanted to see of the Ducati Diavel

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Valentino Rossi aboard the GP11 Ducati Desmosedici: High-res wallpaper

Valentino Rossi and the GP11 Ducati Desmosedici - the best looking combo in MotoGP this year!

The Doctor recently tested the GP11 Ducati Desmosedici at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, and came away reasonably satisfied. 'I’m happy because I was able to ride again today. I did another 42 laps, which is reassuring. Even when I work my shoulder hard, I’m finding that it doesn’t get worse, and I don’t suffer too much,' said Rossi. 'We tested some new fairings, trying out the aerodynamics. There’s still a little vibration at the front that we weren’t able to eliminate, but we have some cards we can play tomorrow to address that. We have to get a little more experience to better understand the bike’s reactions when we change tyres, from soft to hard and vice versa. If the weather stays nice, the track conditions will continue to improve, and I think lap times could drop a bit. Naturally, beyond feeling increasingly comfortable on the bike, one of our goals is to be able to ride it more easily. We’re satisfied with the progress we’re making,' he concluded.

For us, the Rossi-Ducati combo is the best there is in MotoGP this year. We love Valentino Rossi. We love these photographs of him riding the Ducati. We hope he wins the 2011 MotoGP championship. Go...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As far as we're concerned, Rossi-Ducati is the best bike/rider combo in MotoGP this year! Even Hayden's bike (below...) doesn't look too bad, especially with that model next to it...

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

2012 Moto Guzzi V7 Scrambler, California unveiled in Monte Carlo

2012 Moto Guzzi California 2012 Moto Guzzi V7 Scrambler and California 2012 Moto Guzzi V7 Scrambler
We like the new Moto Guzzi California...

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

Folgore Bianca: An even more exotic Bimota Tesi 1D

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



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