Saturday, October 13, 2012

2013 Honda CB1100 puts a new spin on the old, gets it right

2013 Honda CB1100
2013 Honda CB1100 2013 Honda CB1100 2013 Honda CB1100
The new Honda CB1100 is simply beautiful!

The 2013 Honda CB1100 could almost be from the 1980s. Or the 1970s even. Only, it isn’t – it’s a 2013 model, which, according to Honda, ‘mixes naked and classic style with thoroughly modern and engaging performance.’ And we think it’s a pretty cool motorcycle – one that we’d actually buy if we could afford to keep more than one bike in the garage.

Honda say the new CB1100 has ‘a small part of the soul of a true original – the Honda CB750 Four, a bike that has cast a long and influential shadow over motorcycling since its debut in 1969.’ That late-1960s CB750 was powered by a then-revolutionary 749cc, air-cooled, SOHC inline-four that produced 67bhp. The new CB1100 is also fitted with an air- and oil-cooled inline-four, but this one is a DOHC, fuel-injected unit and produces 88bhp and 93Nm of torque. It also does 25km/l, which as we all know is important these days.

According to Honda, ‘the CB1100 is sporty, without being a sportsbike and can tour tour, without being a touring bike.’ We kind of like that. The bike has a tubular steel double-cradle chassis, 41mm telescopic forks (preload adjustable), Showa rear shocks and 19-inch alloy wheels shod with 110/80 and 140/70 tyres. Anti-lock brakes are standard, with twin 296mm discs at the front, with Nissin 4-piston calipers. Kerb weight is 248 kilos.

“Instant acceleration has its appeal, as does modern styling that conveys the swiftness of the bike. But there’s a lot more to the path of motorcycle evolution. I found myself thinking along these lines for the first time when I returned to Japan, after several years in Europe. It was also at this time that I grabbed a pencil and quickly started sketching,” says Mitsuyoshi Kohama, Chief Designer for the Honda CB1100. “Tyres. Engine. Frame. Tank. Seat. I thought about how to craft all the necessary elements beautifully and combine them in a perfect whole. I wanted to create a beautiful motorcycle with artisan-level handiwork that's also approachable and easy to ride,” he adds.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

2013 Yamaha R1: First official pics, specs

2013 Yamaha R1 2013 Yamaha R1
2013 Yamaha R1 2013 Yamaha R1 2013 Yamaha R1 2013 Yamaha R1
The 2013 Yamaha R1 soldiers on with no mechanical updates...

As expected, the 2013 Yamaha R1 remains mechanically unchanged and only gets new colours. With its crossplane crank 998cc inline-four, the MotoGP inspired R1 was the hottest superbike in the world until a couple of years ago, after which the RSV4 Factory, S1000RR, Panigale and others have left it gasping for breath. Last year, Yamaha fitted a very sophisticated multi-level traction control system – said to be the best in the business – to the R1, which has given the bike a new lease of life, but the world will have to wait for another year (maybe two?) for a completely new, redesigned R One.

For 2013, the Yamaha R1 keeps its fully adjustable suspension, twin 310mm brake discs at the front with 6-piston calipers, 7-level traction control system and ride-by-wire throttle. It’s still a bag of tricks, the R1 is, but to be honest we can’t wait for a completely redesigned, hopefully better looking R1 from Yamaha.

2013 Yamaha R6: First official pics, specs

2013 Yamaha R6
2013 Yamaha R6 2013 Yamaha R6 2013 Yamaha R6
The 2013 Yamaha R6 gets new colours and... that's it

The 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6 remains mechanically unchanged but does get new paint schemes and… er, well, not much else really. It’s peaky and not very comfortable to ride in city traffic, but on the track, the R6’s 599cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 16-valve (titanium valves, heh heh…) inline-four sings like a happy bird and propels the bike down straights and around corners with remarkable alacrity.

With its ride-by-wire throttle, fully adjustable suspension front and rear, twin 310mm brake discs at front with 4-piston calipers, 17-inch alloy wheels with 120/70 (front) and 180/55 (rear) ZR-rated rubber, MotoGP-style titanium exhaust muffler, magnesium valve and engine covers and built-in lap timer, the Yamaha R6 is for boy racers (and girl racers, we suppose?) who’re serious about being boy/girl racers.

“The YZF-R6 is the most advanced production 600cc motorcycle Yamaha – or anybody else – has ever built,” claim Yamaha and though we don’t know what MV Agusta and their F3 would have to say to that, we certainly wouldn’t dispute that claim. We’d just get the new 636cc Kawasaki ZX-6R and be done with it.

2013 Yamaha VMAX: First official pics, specs

2013 Yamaha VMAX
2013 Yamaha VMAX 2013 Yamaha VMAX 2013 Yamaha VMAX
The 2013 Yamaha VMAX, big, brash and brutishly powerful. If it weren't for the high-tech Ducati Diavel, Mr MAX would be the undisputed champ...

Yamaha haven’t updated the biggest, baddest musclebike on the plant – Mr VMAX swaggers into 2013 with just a new paintjob, but then you probably wouldn’t argue with a motorcycle that packs a 200-horsepower punch, would you? Thought as much. With its 1697cc, 200bhp V4, the VMAX is the weapon you want for straightline performance, though keep in mind that its handling isn’t really as sweet as the Ducati Diavel’s, which is otherwise similarly brutish.

So is a new, ‘nebulous purple’ paintjob enough to keep the 2013 Yamaha VMAX on top? Well, until the time BMW build a supercharged six-cylinder K1600R, probably yes. If it weren’t for the Diavel, which is almost as mad as the ’MAX in a straight line but manages to combine that with sportsbike-like handling in the corners, we’d swear by the VMAX’s forged aluminum pistons, hydraulically activated slipper clutch and 200/50 rear tyre. But things being the way they are, Mr MAX may no longer find it as easy as it used to be, to bludgeon every other motorcycle into submission.

2013 Yamaha FZ6R: First official pics, specs

2013 Yamaha FZ6R
2013 Yamaha FZ6R 2013 Yamaha FZ6R 2013 Yamaha FZ6R
The 2013 Yamaha FZ6R - practical, comfortable and sporty as ever
Yamaha have released the first official pics and specs of their ‘it looks sporty but isn’t really a sportsbike,’ the 2013 FZ6R. The bike gets a new paintjob but remains unchanged mechanically. It’s still powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 16-valve, 600cc inline-four and performance is adequate – if not terribly exciting – in the real world.

Unlike an R6, which will probably kill you in town with its racebike-ergonomics and peaky power delivery, the FZ6R has much more relaxed ergonomics, a more upright seating position, height-adjustable seat and adjustable handlebars – all of which probably make it more suitable for everyday riding than, say, an MV Agusta F3 or Triumph 675 Daytona.

Sure, nobody will crash into the nearest tree or trip over a kerb staring at a Yamaha FZ6R, but this is one commuter bike that looks sporty and offers reasonable real-world performance. Maybe we’ll get one when we’re older…? (Actually, we probably won’t. We’d probably still either be riding a Panigale, S1000RR or RSV4 Factory, or still be dreaming of those machines…)

2013 Yamaha FZ8: First official pics, specs

2013 Yamaha FZ8 2013 Yamaha FZ8 2013 Yamaha FZ8 2013 Yamaha FZ8
We actually like the FZ8 a bit more than the FZ1!

Yamaha have tweaked their naked middleweight sportsbike for 2013, with the FZ8 getting bits like a new exhaust muffler, a rear shock that’s now adjustable for rebound damping and fully adjustable front forks. The bike’s fuel-injected 779cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve inline-four remains unchanged, which is probably all right since it’s anyway smooth, refined and fairly powerful.

For anyone who thinks of the FZ8 as a cheap and cheerful UJM, the bike’s engine has bits like forged aluminum pistons, fracture-split carburized connecting rods and ceramic-composite-plated cylinders. There’s a close-ratio 6-speed gearbox, cast aluminium chassis, die-cast aluminium swingarm, 43mm USD forks, twin 320mm brake discs at the front with monobloc 4-piston calipers and 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels shod with 120/70 (front) and 180/55 (rear) ZR-rated radials. The Yamaha FZ8 is probably a bit too heavy to be a real ‘streetfighter’ type of bike but as a naked sportsbike, it’s not too bad – we actually like it a bit more than the FZ1…

2013 Yamaha FZ1: First official pics, specs

2013 Yamaha FZ1
2013 Yamaha FZ1 2013 Yamaha FZ1 2013 Yamaha FZ1 2013 Yamaha FZ1
The 2013 Yamaha FZ1 remains unchanged and is a bit... boring?

Yamaha have released the first official pics of the 2013 FZ1, which remains unchanged for next year. The bike is an effective semi-faired ‘universal Japanese motorcycle’ and with its liquid-cooled, 998cc, DOHC, 20-valve inline-four (essentially a detuned earlier-generation Yamaha R1 engine), it doesn’t really lack usable, real-world performance.

The 2013 Yamaha FZ1 still has the same 6-speed gearbox, 32-bit ECU and digital ignition, fully adjustable 43mm front fork and adjustable (preload and rebound damping only) rear shock, twin 320mm front brake discs with 4-piston calipers and rides on 17-inch wheels shod with 120/70 (front) and 190/50 (rear) tyres.

Yamaha claim aggressive this and supersport inspired that for the FZ1 but this bike is no streetfighter – it’s a capable all-rounder, but perhaps one that needs a big, fresh dose of excitement. Who knows, maybe Yamaha will bolt on a supercharger on the FZ1 for 2014…

2013 Yamaha FJR1300A: First official pics, specs

2013 Yamaha FJR1300A
2013 Yamaha FJR1300A 2013 Yamaha FJR1300A 2013 Yamaha FJR1300A
 The 2013 Yamaha FJR1300A remains a competent sports-tourer...

Yamaha have released specs and the first official pics of the 2013 FJR1300A sports-tourer. Revisions to the bike include redesigned upper and lower cowls for increased wind protection, an adjustable windscreen, a new electrically adjustable windscreen that faster to operate and which holds its position after the bike has been switched off, redesigned throttle bodies and a revised exhaust system and drive-mode selector that offers touring and sport modes.

The new FJR1300A also has a height-adjustable seat, revised, more easily adjustable cruise control system (which is automatically released when the rider uses the brakes, clutch or throttle), an easily adjustable headlight, improved control buttons and switches and a traction control system that optimizes grip on wet and/or unpaved roads.

The FJR1300A is still powered by a 1.3-litre, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled inline-four that’s tuned for torquey, linear power delivery and which is used as a fully stressed member of the chassis. At 290kg (wet weight), the Yamaha FJR is certainly no lightweight but an all-around competent sports-tourer is what it’s meant to be, and that’s what it is.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Gangnam Style, for motorcyclists

You've seen Korean pop singer Park Jae Sung's (stage name, PSY) original. And now, here's Gangnam Style for bikers everywhere. Enjoy...!