Monday, August 06, 2012

Sportsbikes for beginners: The 7 machines we like most

Aprilia RS4 125
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The Aprilia RS4 is probably the coolest 125cc sportsbike in the world...!

As long-term readers might have noticed, we are obsessed with litre-class superbikes here at Faster and Faster. GSX-R1000s, R1s, Ninja 1000s, Fireblades, Panigales, RSV4s, F4 RRs, S1000RRs… we just can’t get enough of those 170-190bhp monsters! That said, we don’t believe size is the only thing that matters – smaller can be cool, too.We don’t claim to have put together any kind of a definitive must-have list of beginner bikes – whatever works for you is probably the bike you should get. This is just our list of the beginner bikes that we think are pretty damn cool…

Millepercento Alba: The Moto Guzzi Griso 8V’s hotter cousin steps out

Millepercento Alba
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The Millepercento Alba certainly seems to be better in every which way than the Moto Guzzi Griso 8V that it's based on. Yes, we like this bike very much!

Until recently, Jessica was just about the only hot Alba we knew of, but the September issue of Motorcycle Sport & Leisure features an Italian twin that puts the Fantastic Four actress in the shadows. Alan Cathcart rides the Millepercento Alba for MS&L and says the bike is fast and pleasurable to ride hard, with crisp and linear pickup in revs from 4,000rpm upwards. ‘It’s noticeably quicker than any stock Moto Guzzi,’ he adds.

Powered by the SOHC twin-cylinder 1151cc engine from the Moto Guzzi Griso 8V, the Alba is produced by Millepercento, one of the biggest dealers of Moto Guzzi in Italy. The bike has been engineered by Guiseppe Ghezzi, the man responsible for the Guzzi MGS-01 racebike, and as an option, the Alba is also available with the 1420cc pushrod engine from the Guzzi-Millepercento BB1.

‘When I joined Millepercento to create the Alba, my first objective was to do what I’d been denied at Moto Guzzi, which was to create a streetlegal Guzzi sportbike, meeting all required noise and emissions norms,’ says Ghezzi. Well, with 108bhp and 121Nm of torque, and a dry weight of 206 kilos, the Alba isn’t exactly a threat to the Panigales, S1000RRs and RSV4s of this world, but as Cathcart found out, it’s still a pretty capable machine in its own right.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Eddie Lawson: “I was timid, I wasn’t aggressive…”

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With his four 500cc world championships, 'Steady Eddie' was certainly one the greatest motorcycle grand prix roadracers in the 1980s. We're huge fans and always will be...

The second issue of Dainese Legends magazine features an interview with Eddie Lawson, one of the greatest motorcycle grand prix racers of the 1980s. Lawson, who won the 500cc GP roadracing world championship in 1984, 86, 88 and 89, took 31 race wins in the 500cc GPs in an era that was populated by racers like Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner and Randy Mamola.

Today, 23 years after Lawson won his last 500cc world championship, he is still regarded as one of the best motorcycle roadracers ever to emerge from the United States and what he has to say is still very, very interesting for those who have fond memories of the old 500cc two-stroke GP racing days. Here are some excerpts from Lawson had to say to Legends:

On how he got into motorcycle roadracing

“I came from a family of racers. My grandfather was one, and my father was as well – bikes, cars, everything. It was natural for me to be in a seat and racing, but I wasn’t fast right away. It took some time. I was timid, I wasn’t aggressive, and I wanted to understand how to go fast, and not just throw myself down the road. It got to the point where my grandfather once said, ‘The boy will never be fast’…”

Friday, August 03, 2012

BMW HP4 is the hottest S1000RR ever


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The HP4 is BMW's greatest high-performance motorcycle ever, and the regular S1000RR will also get all of the HP4's goodies next year

BMW have officially confirmed the S1000RR-based HP4, which packs 193 horsepower and weighs 199kg (with ABS and a full tank of fuel). ‘The new BMW HP4 sees its world premiere in 2012 and is a continuation of BMW Motorrad's HP model series founded in 2005. After the Boxer models HP2 Enduro, HP2 Megamoto and HP2 Sport, the BMW HP4 is the first 4-cylinder motorcycle in the HP family,’ says a press note from BMW.

Built as a limited edition model, the BMW HP4 features upgraded brakes, revamped suspension and upgraded electronics – the race-ABS and traction control systems have been tweaked and refined in a big way – and BMW will homologate the machine for superbike and superstock racing. The HP4’s all-new dynamic damping control (DDC) system allows the bike’s suspension to adapt to changing road and track surfaces in real time, providing the best of grip and traction at all times. DDC is, of course, fully integrated with the HP4’s ABS and traction control systems.

Exotica: MV Agusta F4RR Corsacorta test ride


On this episode of On Two Wheels, Bradley Adams of Sport Rider magazine tests the beautiful, powerful and very exotic MV Agusta F4 RR Corsacorta. A 1000cc inline-four that produces close to 170bhp at the rear wheel, top-of-the-line Öhlins suspension and an eight-level traction control system means this is one MV that should be able to run with the best. So what is OTW's verdict...?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ducati 1199 Panigale takes on Porsche GT2 RS


Ducati's finest takes on Porsche's meanest as the gutsy Panigale goes head to head against the badass GT2 RS. Who's going to win this one?!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Phil Schilling’s 30-year-old review of the Honda CBX

Honda CBX Honda CBX
Cycle magazine's Phil Schilling wrote a beautiful story about the CBX, 30 years ago. Three decades on, it's a story that needs to be retold...

Powered by a 1,047cc, 105bhp six-cylinder engine, the late-1970s/early-1980s Honda CBX was an intriguing mix of superbike and sports-tourer. Back in July 1982, Phil Schilling wrote about the bike for Cycle magazine. It’s a beautifully written piece that tells the remarkable story of the CBX, a motorcycle we love so very much. Schilling’s story on the CBX was published exactly three decades ago, which means a lot of our readers probably never had the opportunity to read it. So if you love the CBX, here’s your chance to enjoy one of the best written articles about that magnificent machine:

Honda's CBX was a grabber from the start. In the desert darkness, along a deserted road, you hear again the rushed whisper that six cylinders and 24 valves make at 75mph, and you remember again the first time you rode a CBX. Strange, isn't it, how after tens and hundreds of test machines, you can recall how it was with the clarity and resolution of the day just past. Maybe it's the soft, backlit red glow from the instruments; the CBX had the dials first done in that motif, and this visual cue connects again and again with that first CBX.

Yet that could be only part of it. Because in so many ways the CBX is a memorable machine, and not necessarily in a functional way either. The CBX announces itself as an exotic – restrained but with an audacious self-confidence. See Me! Six cylinders! Twenty-four valves! Six carburetors! Presence. A motorcycle that you don't look through or past. See and look again. You can't say that about many Hondas.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

BMW S1000RR HP4 coming in September this year

2012 BMW S1000RR HP4
A BMW that can beat the Ducati Panigale at its 'massive power and spaceship-spec electronics' game? That would be the new BMW S1000RR HP4...

According to some reports on the web that seem fairly believable, BMW are all set to launch a new version of the S1000RR in September this year. This bike, the S1000RR HP4, will feature revised engine mapping, with power going up to 200-205bhp. With extensive use of carbonfibre, dry weight will be around 170 kilos.

The 2013 BMW S1000RR HP4 will also gets bits like an Akrapovic titanium exhaust system, race-ABS with upgraded Brembo monobloc brakes, forged alloy wheels (carbonfibre wheels might also be offered), updated electronics for the bike’s multi-stage traction control system, race-spec Ohlins electronically adjustable suspension and a new digital dashboard. Some modifications to the aluminium twin-spar chassis are also expected, to deal with the increased power output.

The S1000RR HP4 is expected to be launched in the first week of September this year, with a price tag of about 20,000 euros. We’ll post more information and official pictures as soon as possible.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Valentino Rossi gets a cool new helmet for the Italian GP

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We only hope the 2012 Italian MotoGP at Mugello today turns out to be as interesting as Valentino Rossi's new helmet. We're hoping for a podium finish for The Doctor!

The Doctor might only be starting from 10th position on the grid, but at least he has a cool new helmet for the 2012 Italian MotoGP. The helmet features an image of Gianni Morandi, an Italian singer, actor and television host, surrounded by a bunch of flowers. There's also the phrase 'Restiamo Uniti,' which means 'let's stick together,' on the helmet.

Morandi is, apparently, a heavyweight in the world of Italian music, having sold more than 49 million records worldwide. 'Restiamo Uniti' is a phrase he made famous when he performed at the Sanremo Music Festival in February this year. Designed by Aldo Drudi, Valentino Rossi's new brain bucket looks pretty cool. We only hope The Doctor can actually make some music during the race today. Would a podium finish be too much to hope for...?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2013 Husqvarna TR 650 Terra, TR 650 Strada unveiled

2013 Husqvarna TR 650 2013 Husqvarna TR 650 2013 Husqvarna TR 650 2013 Husqvarna TR 650
The 2013 Husqvarna TR 650 Strada and TR 650 Terra look like they'd be fun to ride. The day we no longer want a Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000, we'd take the 650 Strada...

After the Nuda 900R, which they unveiled last year, Husqvarna have now announced the new TR 650 Strada and TR 650 Terra, both of which are powered by a modified version of the single-cylinder 652cc engine that you’d find on the BMW G650GS range. The TR 650 Strada has been optimized for the street while the Terra is built for dual-purpose use and will take some light off-roading in its stride.

Husqvarna have taken BMW’s 652cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected DOHC single-cylinder engine and reworked it for the TR 650 duo – the engine now produces 58 horsepower and 60Nm of torque, which should be adequate since the TR 650 Strada weighs 168kg dry (166kg dry, for the Terra). For those are interested, modifications to the engine include a retuned fuel-injection system, altered camshafts, new pistons, increased compression ratio and changes to the piston and cylinder head geometries, all of which result in enhanced power delivery. The engine also benefits from an all-new stainless steel exhaust system and is now more fuel efficient and has reduced emissions.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jay Leno tests the 2012 Campagna V13R


Powered by the 122bhp Harley-Davidson 'Revolution' V-Rod engine, the Campagna V13R roadster trike has the potential to put a big smile on the faces of people who like slightly mad three-wheelers. Jay Leno takes the V13R for a spin

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2013 Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja unveiled

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The 2013 Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja gets a new speed-sensitive electronic steering damper. And with a claimed 197bhp, the bike remains an exciting, aggressive superbike

Kawasaki have announced the new, 2013 ZX-10R Ninja, which is available with Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KRTC) and optional ABS. Fitted with Kawasaki’s liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve, 998cc inline-four that produces a claimed 197 horsepower (at the crank, with ram air…?), the big Ninja remains one of the most impressive performers in the litre-class superbike segment.

The Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 120/70 (front) and 190/55 (rear) ZR-rated tyres and gets adjustable 43mm big piston inverted forks and a gas-charged rear monoshock that is adjustable for high- and low-speed compression damping, rebound damping and preload. There are twin 310mm brake discs at the front with 4-piston radial-mount calipers, and ABS is optional. Kerb weight is 199kg and colour options include green/black and white/black.

The 2013 ZX-10R Ninja also gets a new Öhlins electronic steering damper that is able to react to current speed as well as the rate of acceleration / deceleration, to provide the ideal amount of damping force at all times. Should certainly up the safety factor by a notch or two on the street. The bike is priced at US$15,299.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 650 unveiled

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The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 650 is now available with anti-lock brakes (ABS) as an option, which has to be a good thing on a beginner-friendly machine like this...

Kawasaki have released the specs and first official pictures of the new, 2013 Ninja 650, which is now available with anti-lock brakes (optional). Powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 649cc parallel-twin that produces 65 horsepower and 61Nm of torque, the Ninja 650 is priced at US$8,099 and is a reliable, low-maintenance, beginner-friendly machine.

With a kerb weight of 209kg, steel tube chassis, 6-speed gearbox, 41mm front forks, single rear shock (adjustable for preload), twin 300mm brake discs with 2-piston calipers at the front, ABS (optional), and 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 120/70 (front) and 160/60 (rear) Dunlop Roadsmart II tyres, the Ninja 650 is all-around capable and ideal for daily commuting duties as well as a bit of two-up sport-touring.

Kawasaki claim an estimated fuel economy figure of 50mpg/21kpl, which is not too bad for a 650cc bike. And the Ninja 650’s adjustable, 3-position windscreen, generous seat and optimized ergonomics should also be handy on longer trips.

Monday, July 09, 2012

John McGuinness: “Everything about the TT has changed…”


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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:

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