Thursday, April 21, 2011
BMW were the first motorcycle manufacturer to start offering anti-lock brakes (ABS) on their production bikes. Some might actually find it hard to believe, but BMW K-series bikes were already available with ABS in 1988. Of course, that ABS will probably not be comparable to what you’d find on an S1000RR today, but still, there’s no getting away from the fact that BMW pioneered the concept of anti-lock brakes on production bikes.
Now, BMW have taken another big step towards promoting safety for motorcyclists – the company has announced that ABS will be standard fitment on all its bikes from 2012 onwards. Yes, we think this how it should be – ABS is an extremely useful safety feature on high-performance bikes – and we hope all other motorcycle manufacturers will follow BMW’s example very soon.
‘Plain and simple, being able to stop a motorcycle faster and more predictably helps prevent a rider from becoming a statistic. It's time for all of us in the motorcycle industry to embrace the benefits of ABS. Extensive testing by safety experts, law enforcement authorities and journalists around the world consistently demonstrates that ABS reduces overall crashes and saves lives,’ says Pieter de Waal, Vice President, BMW Motorrad USA.
‘We commend BMW for taking the lead to improve motorcycle safety. Motorcycle fatalities and injuries have been on an upward trend for the past ten years and ABS and other safety technologies can help reduce these tragedies,’ adds David Strickland, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US.
A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) revealed that motorcycles equipped with antilock brakes are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than models without ABS. ‘Our research results show ABS on motorcycles saves lives, and riders are taking note, too. A recent survey found that a majority of riders said they would look for ABS on their next bikes,’ says Adrian Lund, President, IIHS.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
In a recent interview conducted by Motorcycle-USA, 1993 500cc motorcycle grand prix racing world champ Kevin Schwantz expressed his thoughts on the current state of MotoGP, the role of electronics in today’s racebikes and the impending move to 1,000cc engines in 2012. Here are some excerpts from what the Texas Tornado had to say:
On the move from 990cc to 800cc engines and, now, back to 1,000cc engines from 2012
When they went to four-strokes, it was definitely a big change and I don’t think they needed to change the displacement to try and slow the bikes down. The issue was the speeds were getting so great but the run off was not enough. So all they’ve done now is add five miles per hour to the centre of the corner when it went from 1,000s to 800s. That safety is still not there even though the top speed is not as great but the corner speed is higher now. I think the state of MotoGP is descent right now – it’s not a full field as we’d like to see but I think going back to 1,000cc rules and giving prototype machines a smaller number of engines and production-based bikes more fuel – all the advantages will give from one to the other, I think that will be good. They have to do something to get more bikes out there.
On the role of electronics in motorcycle racing
Two-thirds of a machine right now is electronics. What they need to do is come up with what F1 and what I heard NASCAR is trying to implement with fuel-injection and have McLaren build the ECU. It’s a little bit like Moto2 but not quite as restrictive. Manufactures want to be able to see that development. We have a horsepower advantage, we don’t want you to cut our horsepower. Maybe everybody runs the same electronics but you’re not going to hamper the fact that I build a built a better engine. We still want to see that. If I’ve got one that’s smoother and puts better power to the ground, maybe works better in the rain and when it’s hot. Everyone is on that same electronics package. Then it’s a much better series.
On what’s more important – talent or electronics
I think even now with more electronics than what’s needed, the good guys are still winning. They can find a way to ride around problems they encounter throughout the race!
Please visit Motorcycle-USA for the full interview
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Based in Miami, Florida, in the US, Scorpion Motorsports have found a pretty good use for the Kawasaki ZX-6R’s 600cc inline-four, which produces a rather useful 126 horsepower at 16,000rpm. They’ve built a trike – the Scorpion P6 – around this engine and the little three-wheeler boasts of performance that’s rather impressive.
The Scorpion P6 weighs about 325 kilos and the trike can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 3.5 seconds. It will also go from zero to 100km/h and back to zero in just 10 seconds. The base model costs US$30,000 and if those performance numbers aren’t hot enough for you, you can buy the P6 Turbo for an extra $6,000. A wide range of carbonfibre bits are also available, that can add up to $15,000 to the base price and for those who can afford them, there’s also a full titanium exhaust and electronic paddle shifter on the options list.
More details available on the Scorpion Motorsports website here. You can also watch the full version of the Tamara Sky video above, on the Playboy website here
Yes, we like the Scorpion P6!
The Moto Guzzi Norge probably exists because not everyone wants a Honda VFR1200 or BMW K1600GT to go touring on a motorcycle. This is touring, Italian style...
An Italian touring bike sounds a bit like Japanese pasta or German pizza. No, really, it’s the Germans and the Japanese who do touring bikes very well, Italians are best suited to building machines like the 1198SP and RSV4 Factory APRC SE. That’s just our opinion, of course, and Moto Guzzi insist on doing a touring bike – the Norge GT 8V, which has now been updated.
Fitted with the same 8-valve 1151cc V-twin (though in a mildly different state of tune) as the new Stelvio, the Norge packs 102 horsepower and 104Nm of torque, which is probably adequate for the bike’s dry weight of 257 kilos. The fairing has been redesigned and its electrically adjustable windshield should offer sufficient wind protection for riders of all shapes and sizes.
Moto Guzzi also claim that the Norge handles really well and that its suspension has been optimised for ‘racing behaviour.’ Ahem. Now while we don’t suppose Valentino Rossi would ride one of these, if he did, he just might appreciate the Norge’s plush ride, spacious panniers and satellite navigation system. And that’s probably all that the Norge customer wants anyway.
Moto Guzzi, who are celebrating their 90th Anniversary this year, have announced the 2012 Stelvio 1200 8V and NTX models, which feature minor styling and technical updates. The fairing and windshield have been redesigned for better aerodynamics, the instrument panel has been revised and the fuel tank is now much bigger, being able to take 32 litres of fuel.
The Stelvio’s transversely mounted 90° V-twin gets a revised ECU and a new cooling system and is said to be smoother and quieter than its predecessor. It also offers better low- and mid-range power delivery, is more fuel-efficient and fully emissions norms compliant. With 105bhp and 113Nm of torque, the ‘Quattrovalvole’ 1151cc engine is quite up to the task of pushing the Stelvio along at a fairly respectable pace. The bike is fitted with ABS and ATC, a basic form of traction control that cuts torque delivery when it detects sudden loss of grip. Both the ABS and ATC systems can be switched off by the rider.
The more off-road-oriented Stelvio NTX gets an oil sump guard, engine guard, cylinder guard, full cover hand-guards and extra large windshield with additional wind deflectors, so you can happily go around the world on your bike if you wanted to. Spacious aluminium panniers, additional halogen lights, a GPS navigator and heated hand-grips are all available as optional extras.
The Stelvio’s 45mm USD Marzocchi front fork and fully adjustable Sachs monoshock offer 170mm and 155mm of travel respectively, and quite are up to the task of handling the bike’s heft (kerb weight is 272 kilos) whether travelling on or off the road. Brakes are by Brembo, with twin 320mm discs up front and single 282mm disc at the back. The Stelvio also gets new light alloy wheels while the NTX gets spoked wheels – both are fitted with 150/70-17 (rear) and 110/90-19 (front) tubeless tyres as standard.
While they aren’t radically new or different, the 2012 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 8V and NTX remain capable on/off-roaders and an interesting alternative to the BMW R1200GS.