Monday, September 10, 2012

German Top Gun rides… what else, a BMW S1000RR

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When you're used to flying a jet plane that can hit a top speed of 940km/h, even something like the BMW S1000RR probably feels just a bit slow...

When you think of fighter pilots and motorcycles, you probably think Tom Cruise riding his Kawasaki GPZ in the movie Top Gun. Well, the connection between those who fly jet planes and ride motorcycles is well and alive. Meet Stefan Grillenbeck, who works as a test pilot at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Germany’s national research centre for aeronautics and space, which is responsible for the planning and implementation of the German space programme.

Recently, when Grillenbeck was not flying his Rolls-Royce-engined long-range high-speed Gulfstream G550 jet, he swapped his flying suit for motorcycle leather and got on a… BMW S1000RR, of course. You wouldn’t expect him to ride a Honda scooter, would you? Grillenbeck’s G550 jet is an impressive piece of machinery – the jet plane costs more than US$50 million, has a flying range of 12,500km, can carry up to 19 passengers and can hit a top speed of up to 940km/h, which probably makes it a bit faster than the BMW S1000RR, at least in a straight line.

Time Travel: Suzuki GSX-R1100 vs GSX-R1000

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Suzuki GSX-Rs Suzuki GSX-Rs Suzuki GSX-Rs
Can the late-1980s/early-1990s Suzuki GSX-R1100 take on its modern-day successor, the Suzuki GSX-R1000? And is the current 1000 a worthy successor to the wild old 11?

Our undying love for Suzuki GSX-Rs has been well documented in the pages of Faster and Faster. In recent years, bikes like the S1000RR, RSV4 and the Panigale have pushed the superbike performance threshold to new heights and, some would say, have left the GSX-R1000 in the dust. But we still love the GSX-R, we still want one more than anything else. A brand-new GSX-R1000 fitted with a Yoshimura racing exhaust system and Kevin Schwantz’s 1989 Pepsi Suzuki RGV500-replica paintjob. Yes, that’s the dream.

Back in the mid-1980s, when the GSX-R was launched, we were still in school and limited to reading about the GSX-R in motorcycle magazines. Those photographs of GSX-Rs being wheelied, stoppied and cornered like crazy were, for us, endlessly fascinating. In the late-1980s and early-1990s, all we ever wanted was a GSX-R1100 (and, well, a Kawasaki ZXR750/ZX-7R, but that’s another story…).

“Nail the throttle and the Suzuki surges forward, although the tacho needle is barely off its 3,000rpm peg. The acceleration is awesome – like being charged in the back by a rugby scrum,” said bike journalist Roland Brown, in a story he wrote for the May 1986 issue of Bike magazine. And indeed, the 1986 GSX-R1100 must have been something truly special. The bike weighed in at 197 kilos and with its 1052cc inline-four pumping out 130 horsepower, the Gixxer 11 could hit a top speed of 250km/h. With its twin round headlamps, aluminium alloy chassis, anti-dive forks, floating front brake discs and endurance racer styling, the GSX-R1100 probably was for that era what a Max Biaggi-replica RSV4 would be for now.

Suzuki produced the GSX-R1100 from 1986 to 1992 and each year brought significant changes and modifications to the machine. All mods weren’t, apparently, equally effective though over the years the GSX-R1100 did get wider wheels and tyres, various chassis updates, USD front forks, bigger carburetors, better brakes and multiple styling updates. The last model, the 1992 GSX-R1100, had 149bhp from its 1127cc inline-four and weighed 210kg. It rode on 17-inch wheels with 120/70 (front) and 180/55 (rear) radial tyres and the front brake discs had 4-piston Nissin calipers – not a million miles away from where litre-class superbikes are, today.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Janna rides into a tyre shop...

All we know is that her name is Janna Flurry Hall, that she can probably ride a motorcycle and that we're in love. (Yes, we know. In our dreams...)

Friday, September 07, 2012

Manuela Raffaeta visits the BMW Museum, meets the 1976 BMW R 90 S

Manuela Raffaeta, BMW R 90 S Manuela Raffaeta, BMW R 90 S
Manuela Raffaeta, BMW R 90 S Manuela Raffaeta, BMW R 90 S
Manuela Raffaeta, BMW R 90 S Manuela Raffaeta, BMW R 90 S
Manuela Raffaeta, with Steve McLaughlin's 1976 BMW R 90 S

Marco Melandri is a lucky man. He’s rides fast bikes for a living and his fiancée is the eminently hot Manuela Raffaeta, who recently visited the BMW Museum in Munich, right after the inaugural BMW Motorrad Days party. This was for a special photoshoot, which was done by Markus Hofmann, whose work we’ve featured earlier on this site.

For the photoshoot, Manuela posed with the BMW R 90 S, which American rider Steve McLaughlin rode to victory in the first-ever AMA Superbike race at Daytona, in the US, in 1976. Another BMW rider, Reg Pridmore finished second in that race and even won the inaugural AMA Superbike world championship that year.

McLaughlin’s race-winning BMW R 90 S, which recently took to the racetrack again at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it was ridden by former BMW Motorrad factory rider, Troy Corser, has now taken up permanent residence at the BMW Museum in Munich. And as these pictures show, the bike looks as hot now as it did back in the 1970s. Manuela, too, apparently enjoyed her photoshoot with this iconic motorcycle. Here are some excerpts from what she had to say about bikes and her life with Mr Melandri:

Eric Bostrom’s Gary Nixon tribute Kawasaki Z1000 café racer

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Eric Bostrom's Z1000 cafe racer is a fitting tribute to the late, great, Gary Nixon's 1976 Kawasaki KR750 on which he finished 2nd in the 1976 Formula 750 world championship

Eric Bostrom, 36 years old, currently races in the AMA Superbike series. Gary Nixon, who won AMA Grand National Championships in 1967 and 68, passed away last year at the age of 70. Who’d think there would be any kind of connect between the two men, motorcycle racers from different eras. And yet, there is.

Eric currently rides for the Attack Performance Kawasaki team in AMA Superbikes, while Gary rode an Erv Kanemoto-tuned two-stroke Kawasaki KR750 to a second-place finish in the 1976 Formula 750 world championship. ‘Gary was a hero, and a legend,’ says Eric, of his late friend, in whose memory he’s built the Kawasaki Z1000 café racer you see here.

Eric teamed up with Lossa Engineering for his café racer project and together the two created the bike’s handmade fuel tank (made of steel), fiberglass front fender and tailpiece, billet wheels that mimic the appearance of the KR750’s hoops and a handmade Leo Vince exhaust system with three end cans – because the KR750 was, of course, a triple. The original wiring was replaced entirely for a cleaner look and a new chassis subframe was made from scratch. Bits like custom clip-ons, rearsets, Tommaselli levers, a Grimeca master cylinder and a smaller radiator, air pod filters and a Kawasaki Racing tachometer were also bolted on, to complete the 1970s look.

Eric’s Z1000 carries Gary Nixon’s racing number, 9. We don’t think Gary would be too unhappy about that.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Video and high-res pics: BMW HP4 in action at Jerez

The BMW HP4 packs more than 190 horsepower, weighs less than 200 kilos and looks and sounds absolutely fantastic. Watch the bike in glorious action at the Jerez circuit in Spain and hit the jump for high-resolution pics of the hottest BMW motorcycle ever built

On Two Wheels: On the road in a Ural sidecar

On this episode of On Two Wheels, Ari Henning gets on a Ural sidecar rig and rides a rather long way to pick up an old two-stroke Honda MB5. It's the adventure of a lifetime. Or, well, not really, but it's still pretty cool all the same...

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

2013 Honda CBR250R gets MotoGP-replica paintjob

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The 2013 Honda CBR250R, as competent and capable as ever...

Honda have announced details of the 2013 CBR250R, which is now available with a MotoGP-replica Repsol paintjob. The bike remains unchanged mechanically, with the same 249cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected DOHC single-cylinder engine, steel tube chassis, optional ABS and mini-VFR1200 styling.

‘New’ bits on the 2013 CBR250R include black-painted wheels, black exhaust cover, new colours (apart from the MotoGP-replica paintjob, there’s red, black, and pearl white/blue/red) and a transferable one-year limited warranty. A wide range of accessories are available for the CBR, including a passenger seat cowl, carbonfibre tank pad and carbon fuel lid cover etc.

MotoGP paintjob or not, we reckon the 2013 CBR250R looks a bit dull when compared to the hot new Kawasaki Ninja 300. How these two bikes fare against each other in showroom wars remains to be seen…

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 livens up the entry-level sportsbike class

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The new Kawasaki Ninja 300 definitely looks good and should be the ideal sportsbike for beginners. We think it's certainly a bit more exciting than the Honda CBR250R...

Kawasaki have released official details and pics of the new, 2013-model Ninja 300, which gets a 296cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected 8-valve DOHC parallel-twin that produces 39 horsepower and 27Nm of torque. With (optional) ABS, the Ninja 300 weighs 174 kilos and comes with bits like a 6-speed gearbox, slipper clutch, an analogue-style tachometer and a multi-function LCD that features a fuel gauge, dual trip meters, clock and the now inevitable ‘economical riding indicator.’

With 17-litre fuel tank, steel tube chassis, 17-inch alloy wheels (shod with 110/70 and 140/70 tyres, front and rear), 37mm telescopic fork at front, Uni-Trak gas-charged preload-adjustable monoshock at the back and single 290mm brake disc with dual-piston calipers at the front, the new Ninja 300 looks quite interesting – it seems to have an edge over anything else that’s available in the entry-level sportsbike class, including Honda’s reasonably capable though not very exciting CBR250R.

The new Kawasaki Ninja 300 is destined for Europe and the US (where it'll be priced at $5,499), though it seems Kawasaki is likely to continue with the Ninja 250R in Asia. Having both the Ninja 250 and the Ninja 300 in their line-up seems to be a rather strange decision for Kawasaki and we suppose at some time in the near future, the 250 may be phased out.

There does seem to be some renewed interest in the entry-level sportsbike class. KTM already have the excellent 200 Duke which they sell in Asia, and the KTM-Bajaj combo is said to be developing a new 350/400 Duke, which is likely to be offered in Asia and Europe in 2013. If you’re just getting into motorcycling, you just might be spoilt for choice in the near future…

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

BMW R120 G/S kit sexes up the R1200GS

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The R120 G/S kit for the BMW R1200GS looks fabulous...

In his late-40s, Fabio Marcaccini lives in the hills of Riccione, in Italy, and has been racing and rallying motorcycles for more than the last three decades. He’s also participated in five Paris-Dakar rallies (from 1987-1992), has been an official test rider for Bimota and has ridden motorcycles pretty much all over the world.

Now that he’s getting old a bit older, Fabio spends more time in his workshop and is now an industrial product designer with a passion for designing… you guessed it, motorcycles. Well, not entire bikes perhaps, but he builds kits that allow individual buyers to customize their machines the way they want.

One of his designs is the R120 G/S kit, which is compatible with all 2004-2012 models of the BMW R1200GS. Built with high-quality materials, the kit results in a saving of more than six kilos over the original bike and, in our opinion, looks absolutely fabulous – especially the white one with blue/red stripes and orange-brown seat. Extensive customization options are available though base price is 3,920 euros.

For more details on pricing, availability and how to order the R120 G/S kit for yourself, visit their official website

Photos: Matteo Cavadini - Riders Italian Magazine 54, and Zep Gori

C59R.1 brings café racer cool to the BMW R100RS

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The C59R.1 is what we'd want to make of our old BMW R100RS, if we had one...

Based in Cambrils, near Barcelona, Cafe Racer Motorcycles C59R was set up in 2011 by one Ramon Josep Curto, who wanted to give a new lease of life to classic bikes by transforming them into café racer / street tracker-style machines. And the bike you see here – the C59R.1 – is his first attempt at doing just that.

The C59R.1 café racer is based on a BMW R100RS, which gets ‘Clubman’ type handlebars, completely revamped electrics, new fork springs and rear shocks, a steering damper and thoroughly overhauled engine and gearbox. The seat, front and rear fenders and exhaust were all custom-built for the bike, which was then given a charcoal grey paintjob with red stripes.

We think the C59R.1 looks pretty cool in an understated sort of way. More information is available on CRM’s official website

Suzuki launch Barry Sheene clothing line

Barry Sheene clothing line from Suzuki
Barry Sheene clothing line from Suzuki Barry Sheene clothing line from Suzuki Barry Sheene clothing line from Suzuki
The new Barry Sheene clothing line from Suzuki looks properly cool!

Suzuki have announced a new special line of clothing, launched in honour of the legendary Barry Sheene, who won the 500cc motorcycle grand prix roadracing world championship in 1976 and 1977. 'The Sheene clothing line offers a casual and fashionable line-up that would not be out of place in major high street retailers,' says a press note from Suzuki.

The clothing line, with its Texaco Heron Suzuki colours with which Sheene won both his 500cc world championships in the 1970s, has been designed in memory of the golden age of motorcycle roadracing. The line-up comprises of a tshirt and hoodie, each featuring Sheene's racing number '7', team logos and sponsors.

'We are really pleased to present these stunning Sheene items, especially after the success of the 2012 range we launched earlier in the year. Both items look great in the vintage racing colours of the 70s - we really hope that Barry's loyal fans will love them just as much as we do and at the same time help the Clic Sargent cause,' says Emma Gibbon at Suzuki GB.

The Sheene t-shirt is priced at £35.00 and the hoodie at £65.00. 10% of the profits made from each item will go to the Clic Sargent Cancer Charity, which was Barry Sheene's chosen charity. The items can be bought online or through any authorised Suzuki dealer. More information available on Suzuki's official website.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

2013 Triumph Tiger Explorer XC announced

Exactly one month before BMW unveil the current R1200GS' successor, Triumph have announced the new Tiger Explorer 1200 XC. Touché!

Triumph have now announced the Tiger Explorer XC, their new adventure tourer which will go on sale in April 2013. With styling cues from the Tiger 800 XC, the Explorer XC is powered by Triumph’s 1215cc three-cylinder engine that produces 135 horsepower and 120Nm of torque.

In keeping with its off-road-oriented ‘adventure touring’ positioning, the new Triumph Tiger Explorer rides on 19-inch (front) and 17-inch (rear) aluminium-rimmed steel-wire-spoked wheels, shod with dual-purpose tubeless tyres. There are also all the other off-road accoutrements that you might expect – things like hand guards, 55w dual fog lights, an aluminium belly pan and steel tube engine bars.

A maintenance-free shaft drive (with single-side swingarm), cruise control, switchable ABS and traction control system make the Tiger Explorer XC very well suited to long-distance touring, with as much ‘adventure’ thrown in as you can handle. And 16,000km service intervals and a 2-year unlimited mileage warranty only makes things better.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Brown wings it, rides the 2012 Yamaha R1 around the Isle of Man

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The Yamaha R1 is no longer cutting-edge stuff - bikes like the Panigale and RSV4 have left it trailing in their wake. But The One can still just about hold its own...

Here at Faster and Faster, we quite like the Yamaha R1 and to be honest, we feel a bit sad that the bike has fallen behind its European competition in recent years. The Panigale, S1000RR and RSV4 have moved the litre-class superbike game to a different league, but is the R1 really a dinosaur? Umm… maybe not.

Bike journalist Roland Brown recently tested the 2012 Yamaha R1 around the Isle of Man – a daunting 60km of endlessly twisting mountain roads that are a serious challenge for even the best bikes and riders. Here are some excerpts from what he had to say about the R1:

Its riding position is roomy, with relatively high, flat clip-ons and plenty of legroom. Its fairing is wide and protective, its mirrors superbly clear, its suspension compliant and comfortable. Added to that was the unique growl and feel of the crossplane crankshaft – more like a V4 than an inline-four and enhanced in this bike’s case by a pair of gorgeous sounding Akrapovic exhaust cans.

I loved the Yamaha from the moment I set off. On the island, the R1 impressed with its character and all-around ability as much as its pure performance. That crossplane engine is gloriously grunty, firing out of turns from 6,000rpm or below. And with 180bhp to call on, it had heaps of top-end grunt too – easily enough to make it truly fast and scary when blasting up the mountain.

Random Ramblings