Saturday, June 02, 2012

Jay Leno rides the Mission R electric superbike

We first wrote about the Mission R electric racebike back in December 2010 and now there's a one-off street-legal version, which Jay Leno gets to ride! And we have to say, the bike looks pretty awesome. It's by far the best looking electric bike we've ever seen and with a 0-100km/h time of 3 seconds and a 260km/h top speed, it has the performance to match its sportsbike styling. The future of electric motorcycles is beginning to look quite hot...!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Performance Bikes: Honda RVF750R RC45 vs Aprilia RSV4

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It's a battle of the ages as the Honda RC45 goes head to head against the Aprilia RSV4. It's 1990s Japanese racebike engineering against modern-day Italian exotica...

We have to admit, we have a freakish obsession with 1980s/1990s Honda V4s – we think the VFR750R RC30 and RVF750R RC45 are simply two of the coolest bikes ever made on the planet. And if ever had to choose between the two, it would have to be the RC45.

Launched in 1994, the RC45 wasn’t massively powerful – in stock form, its 750cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected DOHC V4 only produced about 118bhp. But it’s the bike’s sheer raciness, its single-minded performance intent, the resolutely purposeful 1990s styling that has us lusting after the Honda even now, almost two decades after it was launched.

Despite having a great heritage of high-performance V4-engined sportsbikes, Honda don’t seem to be interested in building a successor to the RC45. The current V4s in the Honda line-up – the VFR1200F and the Crossdresser Crossrunner – may be undeniably refined, capable and competent etc., but they are just so… dull!

The best modern-day V4-engined superbike is, of course, the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC. It is, perhaps, the bike that Honda could have, should have, built. But they did not. And Aprilia seem to have taken up things from where Honda left off when they stopped producing the RC45 in 1999. The RSV4 is fabulous bike – in terms of styling, handling and engine performance, it’s second to none. So you have to wonder, how would an RSV4 stack up against an RC45? The UK-based Performance Bikes magazine did a story some time ago, where they compared a race-kitted RC45 with a new RSV4. The bikes were ridden by PB’s Matt Wildee and Kar Lee, and here are some excerpts from what they had to say about the match-up:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorable: The 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition

1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition
The 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition, 1980s Japanese sportsbike exotica at its best. The bike weighed 176kg dry, had about 99bhp and cost $6,500 back then...!
1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition

When the Suzuki GSX-R750 was launched in 1985, it was the lightest, quickest, most advanced sportsbike available to the public. ‘This pure supersports model was our first 750cc bike featuring an aluminum frame of unprecedented light weight and superb torsional rigidity. We had no real competitors in the market, other than factory racing machines,’ says Hiroshi Fujiwara, the Japanese engineer who headed the development of the first GSX-R back in the 1980s.

With 99 horsepower from its carbureted, oil-cooled, inline-four and with a dry weight of about 179 kilos, the mid-1980s GSX-R750 offered performance that was unrivalled in its time. ‘We knew that reaching our goal of the world's best power-to-weight ratio – required to realize overpowering performance – would be an enormous challenge,’ says Isamu Okamoto, the man responsible for designing the first GSX-R750’s engine.

And yet, Suzuki not only took on that challenge with the 1985 GSX-R750 but also upped the ante in 1986 with the GSX-R750 Limited Edition. At US$6,500 the LE cost $2,000 more than the standard GSX-R750 and was the most expensive Japanese sportsbike of its time. It featured bits like a gold-plated chain, high-performance radial tyres, single seat, tail section made of hand-laid fiberglass, dry clutch, 41mm ‘NEAS’ front forks (with an electrically activated anti-dive mechanism), three-point steering damper and twin 310mm brake discs up front. And at 176kg dry, the LE was also 3kg lighter than the standard GSX-R750. These things may not sound special today, but added up to a pretty trick sportsbike back in 1986.

2012 Brammo Empulse R launched, priced at $18,995

2012 Brammo Empulse R 2012 Brammo Empulse R 2012 Brammo Empulse R 2012 Brammo Empulse R

Brammo recently revealed pricing and production plans for the Empulse R, which they claim is the world’s fastest electric motorcycle in production. With a range of 160km on one full charge and a top speed of 160km/h, the battery-powered Empulse R certainly seems interesting, though at US$18,995 it’s certainly not cheap. The base model Empulse, at US$16,995 is a bit cheaper, though it will only be available in 2013.

The Brammo Empulse R has plastic bodywork, tubular steel chassis, fully adjustable suspension (43mm Marzocchi fork, Sachs monoshock), Brembo brakes, some carbonfibre bits (headlight shroud, front and rear fenders and the rear light housing) and is powered by a 40kW (54bhp) electric motor that produces 63Nm of torque. Chain final drive is used and power is transmitted to the rear wheel via a 6-speed gearbox. The bike rolls on 17-inch Marchesini alloy wheels, shod with 120/70 (front) and 180/55 (rear) Avon tyres.

The Empulse R’s electric motor is fed by a lithium-ion battery pack that has a maximum capacity of 10.2kWh. Charging time is 8 hours and the batteries are good for 1,500 charging cycles. Depending on the type of usage, range on a full charge can vary between 90-195km.