Monday, July 09, 2012

John McGuinness: “Everything about the TT has changed…”
John McGuinness can lap the 60km Isle of Man TT circuit at average speeds of 211km/h. Don't know about you, but for us, that makes him the God of motorcycle road racing...

With a very impressive 19 wins at the Isle of Man, 40-year-old John McGuinness is currently at the top of his game. One of the fastest, most talented motorcycle racers in the world, McGuinness – sometimes referred to as the Morecambe Missile – holds the outright lap record at the IoM, averaging 211.75km/h around the 60km TT circuit in 2009. If that doesn’t make him the God of motorcycle racing, we don’t know what would.

We’ve always been huge fans of the Isle of Man TT, even if we do think the risk factor is a bit too high – given the number of fatal accidents that happen there every year, it never ceases to amaze us that the race actually hasn’t yet been legislated out of existence. And, of course, we have nothing but respect and admiration for the talent and sheer bravery of the men who choose to race at the IoM despite all the dangers.

We recently had the opportunity to put some questions to John McGuinness, who’s been racing at the IoM for 17 years now, about what it’s really like to race at the Isle of Man, and here’s what he had to say:

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Battle of the Ages: Ducati 851 vs Ducati 1199 Panigale

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Raymond Roche (top, left) on the Ducati 851 and Valentino Rossi with the Panigale. Legends from two different eras. And, amazingly, the 851 is still up for a scrap...

Remember the Ducati 851? It came out in 1987 and blitzed the world of sportsbikes like few other machines have ever managed to. Desmoquattro V-Twin, liquid-cooling, fuel-injection, four-valve cylinder heads, 95bhp and a top speed of about 240km/h made the bike a bit special 25 years ago and that’s the way it remains today, despite the fact that it probably requires motorcycle breakdown cover more than the Panigale does!

The 851 and its various avatars (851 SP, 888 and 888 SP) were produced from 1987 to 1993 and the bike won three World Superbikes championships – with Raymond Roche in 1990 and with Doug Polen in 1991 and 1992. By 1993, the Ducati 888 had twin fuel injectors per cylinder, power was up to 125bhp and the bike had the best bits that companies like Termignoni, Brembo and Ohlins were making back then.

The Ducati 851 was pretty much the top dog of its time, the baddest boy on the block. And that makes you wonder how the bike would stack up against the modern day Ducati 1199 Panigale, a bike that has, in one fell swoop, made every other superbike on the planet look old and slow and outdated. For their August 2012 issue, Motorcycle Sport & Leisure magazine have ridden the 851 and 1199 back to back, and here are some brief excerpts from what they have to say about the two machines:

Friday, July 06, 2012

2013 BMW K1300R, K1300S unveiled

2013 BMW K1300R 2013 BMW K1300R 2013 BMW K1300R 2013 BMW K1300R 2013 BMW K1300R 2013 BMW K1300R 2013 BMW K1300S 2013 BMW K1300S 2013 BMW K1300S
Of the two, we like the K1300R, though we do think it'll be even more awesome with the six-cylinder engine from the K1600GT. BMW, please build the K1600R for next year!

BMW have announced the 2013 K1300R and K1300S, which will be available in showrooms from August this year. The new K1300S gets a new sapphire black metallic/dark graphite metallic paintjob, while the K1300R will be available in racing red/sapphire black metallic and sapphire black metallic/black satin gloss paint finishes. ABS and sports wheels (previously available as an optional extra) are now standard.

A ‘Dynamic package’ is available for the 2013 K1300R, which includes heated grips, on-board trip computer, LED turn indicators, Sport windshield and electronic suspension adjustment (ESA II). Otherwise, both the BMW K1300R and K1300S remain unchanged for 2013, with the same 1293cc inline-four that produces 175 horsepower and 140Nm of torque, Duolever front suspension, Paralever rear suspension, CAN-bus electronics and optional stability control system.

Of the two, we like the K1300R better – it still looks awesome, even though we do think it’ll be even better with the K1600GT’s six-cylinder 1600cc engine. For 2014, we hope BMW will build the K1600R (with a turbocharger or a supercharger, perhaps? Heh heh!)

2013 BMW F800R unveiled

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The 2013 BMW F800R is now available with ABS as standard. Dynamic and Touring packages are available as optional extras and add some useful bits to the bike...

BMW have announced the 2013 F800R, which is now available in metallic blue/Alpine white and metallic sapphire black paint finishes. A new ‘Dynamic package’ is now available for the F800R, which includes an engine spoiler, LED rear light, LED turn indicators and a pillion seat cover. Or, you could opt for the F800R touring package, which includes heated grips, an on-board trip computer, luggage rack, pannier holder and a centre stand.

The 2013 BMW F800R remains unchanged otherwise, with the same 798cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin that makes 87 horsepower and 86Nm of torque. The bike weighs 177 kilos dry and now gets ABS as standard. The 2013 F800R will be in showrooms by August this year.

2013 BMW S1000RR goes grey

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No update to the 2013 BMW S1000RR's electronics package, but the bike remains powerful, fast and capable as ever. And you can now buy it in metallic grey...

BMW have announced the 2013 S1000RR, which is now available in metallic granite grey. It’s a bit disappointing to see that the bike has not been updated in any other way – after the Ducati Panigale came out, we were hoping BMW would update the S1000RR’s electronics package for 2013, but that hasn’t happened.

Of course, the S1000RR remains a massively powerful and very, very fast and capable motorcycle – its near-200bhp inline-four is clearly at the head of the pack of all litre-class superbikes. And with bits like Race-ABS, dynamic traction control (DTC), stiff and lightweight aluminum twin-spar chassis and fully adjustable high-spec suspension, this BMW is right up there with the best of the best from Europe and Japan.

The 2013 BMW S1000RR will be in showrooms by August this year and the bike will be available with optional extras like an HP titanium exhaust system and HP race data logger.

2013 BMWG650GS announced

2013 BMW G650GS 2013 BMW G650GS 2013 BMW G650GS
The 2013 BMW G650GS probably isn't the most exciting bike in the world, but remains a cheap and cheerful (and all-around capable) go-anywhere machine...

BMW have revealed the 2013 G650GS, which is now available with a ‘sunset yellow’ paintjob. Mechanically, the bike remains unchanged – it’s still powered by the same 652cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected DOHC single-cylinder engine that produces 48 horsepower and 60Nm of torque. It’s also quite economical, averaging up to 32km/l at a steady 90km/h. ‘The G650GS stands out clearly from its rivals in terms of quality, equipment, and comfort,’ claim BMW.

With its 5-speed gearbox, robust steel tube chassis and suspension that’s been optimized for off-road use, the 2013 BMW G650GS remains a simple, affordable, go-anywhere machine that can still hit a top speed of up to 170km/h on the street. The bike rides on 19-inch (front) and 17-inch (rear) wheels, ABS is now standard and the 14-litre fuel tank provides adequate range for longer journeys. The bike will be available from August this year.

2013 BMW R1200R announced

2013 BMW R1200R 2013 BMW R1200R 2013 BMW R1200R 2013 BMW R1200R 2013 BMW R1200R 2013 BMW R1200R
The 2013 BMW R1200R gets new paint finishes and, er..., that's about it

BMW have announced the 2013 R1200R, which remains mechanically unchanged but gets new metallic paint finishes – blue and magnesium beige. The bike is fitted with BMW’s 1170cc ‘boxer’ twin that produces 110 horsepower and 119Nm of torque. The R1200R’s steel tube chassis (which uses the engine as a load bearing member) and Telelever (front) and Paralever (rear) suspension remain unchanged, and ABS is now standard.

The 2013 BMW R1200R is also available with electronic suspension adjustment (ESA II) and automatic stability control (ASC) as optional extras. The new bike will be available from August this year.

2013 BMW K1600GT and K1600GTL unveiled

2013 BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL 2013 BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL 2013 BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL 2013 BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL 2013 BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL 2013 BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL 2013 BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL 2013 BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL 2013 BMW K1600GT and BMW K1600GTL
The 2013 BMW K1600GT and K1600GTL remain mechanically unchanged but get new paint finishes, optional LED headlamps and a slightly revised digital instrument panel...

BMW have announced the new, 2013-spec K1600GT and K1600GTL luxury touring bikes. The 2013 K1600GT is now available with new metallic paintjobs – dark graphite and blue – and LED headlamps will be available as an option from October this year. And the bike’s 5.7-inch TFT colour screen on the instrument panel now has an optional digital speed display. The 2013 BMW K1600GTL also gets new metallic paint finishes – dark graphite and red.

Both the K1600GT and K1600GTL remain mechanically unchanged for 2013. Both bikes are fitted with the same 1600cc inline-six engine that produces 160 horsepower and 175Nm of torque. The GT weighs 319kg, while the GTL weighs 348kg, and both bikes are fitted with an adjustable traction control system that has rain, road and dynamic riding modes.

The bikes’ light alloy bridge-type frame, Duolever (front) and Paralever (rear) suspension, electronically adjustable suspension (ESA II), anti-lock brakes (ABS), adaptive headlights that compensate for pitch and banking, superb ergonomics and vast range of optional accessories make the K1600GT and K1600GTL two of the best touring bikes in the world. Both 2013-spec models will be available in BMW showrooms from August this year.
If you think the K1600GT is only good for touring...  :-D

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Trick or Treat: 1998-2003 Suzuki TL1000R

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The Suzuki TL1000R was pretty cool, we think. It didn't have the outright performance of a GSX-R1000, but the TL was certainly distinctive...

Based on the TL1000S, the Suzuki TL1000R was launched in 1998 – the bike was supposed to be Suzuki’s contender in World Superbikes and AMA Superbikes series. But though the bike was raced in 1998 and even took a solitary race win in World Superbikes (during the Japanese WSBK race at the Sugo circuit, in the hands of Japanese rider Keiichi Kitagawa…), Suzuki chose to go back to their beloved GSX-R750 in 1999.

In stock form, the TL1000R’s 996cc V-Twin produced 135 horsepower and with a racing kit that was available from Yoshimura, that could be increased to 150 horsepower. The racing kit also brought weight down to 160 kilos (depending on which source you choose to believe, the stock bike weighed 192-217kg dry), which meant performance wasn’t paltry at all. And sure enough, with bits like aluminium twin spar chassis, forged pistons, lightweight conrods, twin radiators, high-capacity airbox and exhaust system, twin-injector-per-throttle-body fuel injection system, 43mm USD forks, a supposedly revolutionary rotary damper rear suspension set-up and twin 320mm brake discs at the front with 6-piston calipers, the TL1000R was built like proper superbike that was meant to go fast around a circuit.

There probably isn’t a simple answer to why Suzuki chose to invest heavily in developing a V-Twin superbike, and then went back to their inline-four GSX-R after just one year of racing the TL1000R. But along with the other V-Twin superbikes of that era – most notably the Ducati 916/996 and the Honda RVT1000R RC51 – we’re a bit fond of the old TL. Sure, it didn’t fare very well on the track and didn’t sell well either, but we still think it’s charming old machine. So how was it, really, to ride? Let’s take a quick look at what some magazine road tests of that time had to say about the bike.

Monday, July 02, 2012

2013 BMW F700GS, F800GS: First official pics, specs, details

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For 2013, the new F700GS replaces the earlier F650GS. Both, the new F800GS and F700GS get ABS and optional stability control and electronically adjustable suspension...
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BMW have announced the new, 2013-spec F700GS (which replaces the earlier F650GS) and F800GS machines. The F800GS is, according to BMW, a full-on dual-purpose bike that offers high levels of off-road capability, while still retaining suitability for road use. The F700GS, they say, is ‘geared more towards motorcyclists who do not yet need quite the same level of off-road expertise.’ Both bikes get BMW’s latest two-channel ABS as standard, as part of the company’s ‘Safety 360°’ principle, which dictates the adoption of ABS on all 2013 model BMW motorcycles.

Apart from ABS, the 2013 BMW F800GS and F700GS also feature optional automatic stability control (ASC), which is a form of traction control that prevents excessive wheelspin, and electronic suspension adjustment (ESA II), with comfort, normal and sport settings. Both machines are powered by the same 798cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected parallel-twin, which produces 85 horsepower and 83Nm of torque in the F800GS and 75bhp and 77Nm of torque in the F700GS. Both bikes get a tubular steel chassis, which uses the engine as a load-bearing element, and aluminium swingarm.



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