Friday, January 04, 2013

Evel Knievel: “You can’t practice it. It’s a one-shot deal…”

Evel Knievel Evel Knievel Evel Knievel Evel Knievel
Evel Knievel, possibly the maddest motorcycle stunt rider ever, wasn't an energy drink-sponsored 'athlete.' He was a hard-drinking, wild-living, old school showman...

“The water is very important because you’ve got to get the maximum amount of pressure and the maximum amount of thrust for the jump. A steam rocket needs the best there is. I heat it at 500 degrees and let it drop off at 420. I open the valve, let the water from the heater into the rocket and when it drops from 500 to 420, the engineer, Bob Truax, points at me. I’m looking right up the ramp over the Canyon,” said Evel Knievel, talking to Overdrive magazine for their February 1973 issue. Evel was talking to them about preparing for his Snake River Canyon jump, which he went on to perform in September 1974, aboard his custom-built steam rocket-powered Skycycle X2.

“I go at 350 miles an hour in 8 seconds and hope like hell I get there. If I do, I drop down to both knees, grab a handful of dirt and thank God Almighty that I’m still alive. If I splat against the wall, I just get somewhere quicker where you’re going someday, and I’ll wait for you. Dying is part of living,” said Knievel back then, every bit the swaggering American motorcycle daredevil that he was. “You can’t practice it. It’s a one-shot deal. The Skycycle must go up 1,000 feet up at 350 miles an hour in eight seconds, or it’s all over for me,” he added.

Even in this day and age of various Red Bull-sponsored ‘athletes’ who pull off unbelievably spectacular stunts on an assortment of motorcycles, the late, great, Evel Knievel stands in a league of his own. In an era when motorcycles were still very simple and Photoshop and computer graphics hadn’t been invented, Evel jumped across cars and buses and Canyons on his bikes, often with little or no regard for his own personal well-being. Oh, sure, he earned big money and enjoyed spending it too. “I spend it all. I don’t believe in saving it. I’m risking my life for it and I’m going to blow every goddamn dime of it! You know, I love this life I lead. I play golf every day and I bet big money on it. I bet three or four thousand a day on a golf game. These guys I play with think that there’s a lot of pressure on me when I play a golf game because of the money. Hell, they don’t know what pressure is. They should see me face those 16 semis off of that takeoff ramp,” he said in that interview that he gave to Overdrive.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Lucio Cecchinello: “In the middle of the night, I feel the desire to go mad for a while…”

Lucio Cecchinello rides a Honda Fireblade in Monte Carlo
Lucio Cecchinello rides a Honda Fireblade in Monte Carlo Lucio Cecchinello rides a Honda Fireblade in Monte Carlo Lucio Cecchinello rides a Honda Fireblade in Monte Carlo Lucio Cecchinello rides a Honda Fireblade in Monte Carlo
LCR Honda team owner Lucio Cecchinello takes his Honda Fireblade out for a midnight ride around the streets of Monte Carlo, during the F1 GP week...

Former 125cc GP racer, Lucio Cecchinello set up Team LCR back in 1996 and, of course, LCR Honda are in MotoGP today, with their talented rider Stefan Bradl finishing the 2012 season in 8th place aboard his LCR Honda RC213V. And while team boss Lucio, now 43 years old, doesn’t actually race anymore, he’s still pretty handy on a motorcycle. Last year, he rode a Honda Fireblade at the Circuit de Monaco on the night before the F1 race there. And as it were, a charismatic Italian race team owner riding a Fireblade around the streets of Monte Carlo in the dead of the night, during the F1 GP week, made for an interesting story. Cecchinello wrote about the experience for the July 2012 issue of Inspire magazine. Here are some excerpts:

“It’s a very particular atmosphere that you experience in Monte Carlo during the F1 Grand Prix. A unique event, full of history, great challenges, glamour, VIPs and many celebrations. A small city that in a few weeks becomes a majestic Colosseum. A racetrack of 3.5km made up of curves, chicanes, tunnels, down-hills, hairpins and straights where an F1 car can reach 300km/h amongst the footpaths, in between the buildings and the zebra crossings! The week before the GP, tens of mega yachts land at the port, thousands of tourists crowd the hotels, the restaurants are fully booked and the traffic is heavier than usual. I still feel a strong emotion, admiring all the arrangements that must be done to create such a great scenario… leaving aside the shivers that overrun your body every time you hear the sound of an F1 engine that peals in between the buildings.”

It's amazing, what you can do with a motorcycle


We don't suppose it can get any better than this!




Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Yamaha R1 vs BMW M3, BMW S1000RR vs Porsche 911 GT3 RS



A good way to start 2013, right? Happy New Year indeed!




Monday, December 31, 2012

Jay Leno's Garage: 1981 Honda CBX


Jay Leno talks about the 1980s Honda CBX, one of our absolute all-time favourite motorcycles. Also see Cycle magazine's Phil Schilling's CBX review and read about what Shoichiro Irimajiri, the engineer primarily responsible for developing, has to say about this brilliant machine...




Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer vs Triumph Thruxton


It's British parallel-twin vs Italian V-twin in a battle of sporty retros. The Guzzi looks the part and has some really nice details, while the Triumph has the bigger engine and is a bit more powerful. Which one would you ride...?
Via Motorcycle.com

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nicky Hayden: “Valentino didn’t take the easy way out…”

Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden Nicky Hayden Nicky Hayden
'Racing bikes beats working in a field,' says Nicky Hayden...

2006 MotoGP world champion, Nicky Hayden is a likeable man. He’s an old school racer who can, on a good day, hang with the best in the world, doesn’t believe in talking trash and generally steers clear of controversy. Nicky won the AMA Superbike Championship in 2002, when he was just 21 years old – making him the youngest ever champ in that US series. In a MotoGP career that now spans a decade, the Kentucky Kid has only taken 3 race wins (1 in 2005, 2 in 2006, both with the 990cc Honda RC211V), but does also have 28 podium finishes, 5 pole positions and 7 fastest laps to his name. We don’t think he’s going to win any more championships, but the American remains one of the most affable men in racing.

In a recent interview that he gave to Cycle World magazine, Nicky Hayden had some interesting things to say. Here are some excerpts from what the Kentucky Kid said:

On Ducati’s last two years in MotoGP

Ducati tried everything. They’ve rolled out new bikes, stuff that was unheard of last year. If anything, we’ve tried too many new parts. With the aluminium chassis, marketing went out the window. Once Rossi came to Ducati, it was ‘get results – do whatever it takes.’ Everybody’s done as much as they could. We just haven’t done enough.

On Valentino Rossi’s time with Ducati

Valentino Rossi gave a lot of effort. It was impressive to see how he stayed motivated. Valentino didn’t take the easy way out going back to Yamaha; he’s got a lot of pressure on him. It’s not going to be easy. Jorge Lorenzo hasn’t gotten any slower since the last time they were teammates, but Valentino doesn’t seem scared of the challenge. I’m not into making predictions [but] I’ve been really competitive with Valentino for the past two years, so I’m anxious to see how he does.

10 Go-Faster Tips from Colin 'The Texas Tornado' Edwards

Colin Edwards
Colin Edwards Colin Edwards Colin Edwards
After two decades as a professional motorcycle racer, Colin Edwards can certainly teach us a few things about going faster on a motorcycle...

Need to figure out how to go faster on your motorcycle? How about getting a bit of tuition from a MotoGP racer? How about learning a thing or two from Colin Edwards, who started racing in 1992 in the AMA 250cc national series, won the World Superbike Championship twice (in 2000 and 2002), won the Suzuki 8 Hours thrice (1996, 2001 and 2002) and who’s been racing in MotoGP since 2003. Edwards has raced a wide variety of machines – the mid-1990s Yamaha YZF750, the Honda RC45 and RC51, the Aprilia RS3 Cube, the Honda RC211V, the Yamaha YZR-M1 and, currently, the Suter-BMW CRT MotoGP bike. Admittedly, he hasn’t actually won a single race in MotoGP, ever. Then again, he has lined up on the grid in no less than 168 MotoGP races and finished on the podium in 12 of those, so the man probably knows something about going fast on a bike.

In a bid to give something back to the sport that’s given him so much, Edwards has set up the Texas Tornado Boot Camp on a 20-acre facility, 65km north of Houston, in Texas. ‘This camp is a one-stop shop for all ages and skill levels to learn, practice and build your motorcycle skills, with top of the line equipment at the finest facility around. This camp is where you will learn the fundamentals that will transfer to any motorcycle, dirt or street. We use Yamaha TTR 110s, 125s and 230s with semi-slick rear tyres on clay tracks. This will help you with balance, body position, where your eyes should be looking, and most important of all – feel. My instructors and I have done exactly this for years and I wouldn’t be where I am today without this experience,’ says Colin, on the TTBC website.

Among other things, Colin’s facility includes a 1/8th mile clay oval, a lighted 300ft x 150ft covered clay riding arena, a mini supercross track, a paintball course and an obstacle course. ‘For those of you out there saying “110s and 125s and 230s? What can riding a kid’s bike teach me about going faster on my 450F or 1000 Twin?” Well, I make my living going 200mph on some of the fastest and most exotic bikes known to mankind, and I'm telling you that I honed my skills and built my fundamentals riding small bikes on dirt tracks right here in Texas. Everything we will teach you here at the Texas Tornado Boot Camp will translate directly to whatever bike you are riding today, or plan to throw a leg over in the future,’ says Colin.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

National Geographic Megafactories: MV Agusta




National Geographic's Megafactories visits Varese, Italy, to take a look inside the MV Agusta factory. A must-watch for all MV fans...





Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Backing it in: Should you even try?


backing it in backing it in backing it in
Spectacular. Very impressive. But does it help you go faster?

it We’ve all seen our MotoGP and WSBK heroes ‘backing it in’ in fast bends, rear wheel skipping and sliding sideways, smoke coming off the rear tyre, exhaust spitting flames. Yes it looks spectacular and yes we all wish we could do the same on our own bikes. Most of the time, of course, it remains just that – a wish. Slinging a 180bhp motorcycle sideways, at very high speeds, is best left to riding gods – mere mortals would probably be well-advised to not try such things at all.

But apart from whether or not most riders have the talent to back it in, does it even work? Should you be trying to get sideways while approaching a fast bend? Richard ‘Badger’ Browne, of the California Superbike School (UK), has something to say about it in the January 2013 issue of Fast Bikes magazine:

“Backing it in is a result of several things; the rear wheel rotating at a slower speed than the front due to engine braking, hardly any weight on the back wheel and a small amount of steering input through the bars. It all sounds simple, but add to that the fact we’re approaching a corner, with all the distractions this has to offer, as well. When riding, we only have so much attention to share on everything we have to do,” says Browne. “How much attention would you give to the back of the bike when the rear wheel starts stepping out on the way into a corner? If you attention goes to the back wheel, some other part of your riding will suffer. Your turn point, for example, which would be compromised, and therefore the rest of the corner as well,” he adds.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Supercharged, 193bhp Benelli TNT Tornado 1130 blows us away

supercharged Benelli TNT Tornado 1130
supercharged Benelli TNT Tornado 1130 supercharged Benelli TNT Tornado 1130 supercharged Benelli TNT Tornado 1130
With 193bhp from its supercharged 1131cc triple, this Benelli TNT should certainly be a handful. Low- and mid-range acceleration should be spectacular...!

Based in Italy, Evotech have prepared a supercharged Benelli TNT 1130, which has been fitted with a Rotrex C15-16 centrifugal-type compressor that spins up to 12,500rpm. With redesigned air-intake trumpets, a pressurized airbox made of carbonfibre and billet aluminium, high-pressure fuel pump from Yoshimura and Motec M84 ECU, the supercharged TNT’s 1131cc three-cylinder, 12-valve, DOHC engine now produces a massive 193 horsepower (the stock motor produces 141bhp) and 145Nm of torque. A new Motec digital instrument panel has been fitted to the bike and allows the rider to control various parameters of the supercharger/engine management system.

The bike uses the limited edition Benelli TNT Tornado’s chassis – a hybrid unit that’s a mix of chrome-molybdenum tubing and die-cast aluminium sections. Brakes are from Brembo, with twin 330mm discs and radial-mount calipers at the front, 17-inch magnesium wheels are from OZ, the rear monoshock is a fully adjustable AB1 Mupo unit and an adjustable Ohlins fork is used at the front.

Visit Evotech for more details

Pierobon X60R is pure-bred Italian exotica

Pierobon X60R
Pierobon X60R Pierobon X60R Pierobon X60R
With 120bhp from its Ducati 1100 V-twin, fully adjustable chassis and suspension and 134kg weight, the Pierobon X60R is totally race-focused. You know you want one...

Headed by Riccardo Pierobon, Italian outfit Pierobon works closely with factory teams in World Superbikes and MotoGP. Last month, at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Pierobon celebrated their 60 years in racebike chassis development and exhibited the X60R custom-built superbike. The bike is powered by a modified version of Ducati’s 1168cc air-cooled ‘Desmodue Evoluzione’ V-twin, which now produces 120bhp and 116Nm of torque (the stock engine makes 100bhp and 103Nm). On the X60R, the engine is cooled by a bigger radiator, and there are new air ducts that allow the engine to ‘breathe’ better by delivering a larger volume of air to the bike’s pressurized airbox.

Apart from the engine mods, the X60R also gets a custom-built trellis frame and a massive aluminium swingarm, fully adjustable Öhlins fork and shock, Brembo brakes with radial-mount calipers, a Termignoni exhaust system, OZ wheels, carbonfibre bodywork, digital instrumentation and a new ECU for the fuel-injection system. The best part is the weight – the X60R weighs just 134kg, dry. What a pity, then, that it's not street-legal...

Various permutations and combinations of the chassis, bodywork and exhaust system are available but prices start at around 27,300 euros for the complete bike, or 9,155 euros for the kit. Visit Pierobon for more details.

Jay Leno's Garage: 1971 Velocette Thruxton


Mr Leno talks about his 1971 Velocette Thruxton, a bike that's still inexplicably cool, despite (or maybe because of?) its single-cylinder 500cc engine and 45 horsepower




Monday, December 17, 2012

Suzuki GT750: The kettle is still steaming

Suzuki GT750
Suzuki GT750 Suzuki GT750 Suzuki GT750
An original, stock, 1970s Suzuki GT750 (top) and heavily modified GT750s (above) with a Rizla paintjob and modern chassis, suspension, wheels, brakes and tyres. Awesome! 

We like the Suzuki GT750. A lot. A three-cylinder two-stroke 750 from the 1970s – a machine that was fairly prosaic when it was launched – the GT750 is now near-exotic. Or at least it would be, with a bit of tuning, chassis and suspension updates, and modern wheels and tyres. Like the Rizla GT750s you see here. Richard Lindoe and Kev Brooke, owners of these fabulous bikes, have done an excellent job in updating the GT750 – both the Rizla bikes look awesome, and we can only imagine what they’d look like, screaming down streets and, better still, around a racetrack.

“There can’t be many things that say 1970s louder than a three-cylinder, two-stroke motorcycle. The chrome, the paint, the noise and the cocky swagger put the GT somewhere between Ziggy Stardust and Confessions of a Window Cleaner. With all the derisive names (teapot, kettle, water buffalo etc.), it’s easy to forget how special this bike was in 1971,” says Steve Rose, in the November 2012 issue of Classic Bike Guide. “By the late-1960s, Suzuki had gained a lot of race experience with water-cooled strokers. A a beneficiary of Walter Kaaden’s two-stroke expertise when Ernst Degner defected, it had already built four-cylinder, 10-speed 125s and 14-speed twin-cylinder 50s. So a low-revving, lazy tourer was a piece of cake. And that’s what Suzuki built – the GT750 was never supposed to be a road rocket. It as built for cruising the American highways,” he adds.

Jay Leno rides a Royal Enfield Bullet sidecar


It's Jay Leno's Garage once more, and this time Mr Leno is talking about the made-in-India Royal Enfield Bullet, with a sidecar attached for good measure




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Agility Saietta R: Judge Dredd rides again

Agility Saietta R
Agility Saietta R Agility Saietta R Agility Saietta R
Yes, that's 1987 500cc MotoGP world champ, Wayne Gardner (on top) astride the Saietta. He finally knows how it feels to be Judge Dredd. No, really, this bike needs machine guns and laser beam shooters mounted on each side for maximum effect...

Based in London, Agility is led by Lawrence Marazzi, an aerospace engineer and ex-Royal Marine who’s now using his skills to build the Saietta (available in ‘R’ and ‘S’ versions), a cutting-edge electric motorcycle. The Saietta R is powered by a high-tech electric motor that produces 67kW (91bhp) and 127Nm of torque. The motor is fed by a 9.77kWh lithium-ion battery pack that takes 4-8 hours (depending on the power supply) for a full recharge. The Saietta R, which weighs a bit less than 200kg, can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and depending on how you ride it, has a maximum range of 94-182km.

The Saietta R’s chassis seems to be particularly interesting – it’s a composite monocoque construction, rather than the usual steel tube trellis or aluminium beam frame. The front suspension is also similarly unusual – Agility have rejected the ubiquitous fork in favour of a double-wishbone setup, with variable steering geometry and adjustable damping and preload settings. At the back there is what the company calls a ‘Drive-Torque Geometry Control’ integrated transmission and suspension system, with adjustable damper and preload settings.

Brembo’s twin 320mm brake discs at the front, with radial-mount four-piston calipers and single 240mm disc at the back handle stopping duties and the Saietta R rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 100/70 (front) and 130/50 (rear) tyres. You also have the option of going for 120/70 (front) and 150/55 (rear) tyres. The instrument panel is a combination of classic analogue and digital LCD, and displays speed, odometer, energy consumption, battery status, estimated range and system status.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Michael Schumacher rides a Ducati Panigale

Michael Schumacher rides a Ducati 1199 Panigale
Michael Schumacher rides a Ducati 1199 Panigale Michael Schumacher rides a Ducati 1199 Panigale Michael Schumacher rides a Ducati 1199 Panigale
F1 legend, Michael Schumacher is also handy with fast bikes...

A legend in his own lifetime, seven-time F1 world champion, Michael Schumacher recently rode a Ducati 1199 Panigale at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the South of France. Alongside Michael, there was also 19-time Isle of Man TT race winner John McGuinness, riding a Honda Fireblade, and ex-500cc GP racer Randy Mamola (who has the ‘honour’ of having finished 2nd in the 500cc motorcycle grand prix road racing world championship no less than four times – in 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1987!), on a Yamaha R1.

“Riding with Michael was so good. What he’s achieved on four wheels makes him the Godfather of motorsport. I wasn’t expecting him to be anything less, but he’s fast! You can see his enthusiasm for motorcycles and it was a massive pleasure to spend the day with him,” said McGuinness. “Coming here today, I felt so proud to be able to turn my hand at riding a bike with guys I really admire. I can’t begin to explain how much fun it was to ride the track with the likes of John and Randy,” added Schumacher.

Ghezzi-Brian V-Twin Motard brings DDA to the game

Ghezzi-Brian V-Twin Motard Ghezzi-Brian V-Twin Motard
Ghezzi-Brian V-Twin Motard Ghezzi-Brian V-Twin Motard Ghezzi-Brian V-Twin Motard
The Ghezzi-Brian V-Twin Motard not only looks good, it's also more high-tech than you'd suspect. We'd certainly like to ride this bike on some twisty mountain roads in Italy...!

Unveiled at the EICMA last month, the Ghezzi-Brian V-Twin Motard is based on a Moto Guzzi Griso and actually has a bit more than fancy bodywork, windscreen and CNC-milled forged aluminium wheels. The bike has been fitted with a new ECU, a bigger airbox, higher-efficiency air-filter and a Titanium exhaust system, so its 1151cc 8-valve V-Twin now produces 115bhp and 111Nm of torque. With its 6-speed gearbox, fully adjustable 43mm fork, single-sided swingarm, electronically adjustable rear shock and radial-mount callipers for the twin 320mm front brake discs, the G-B V-Twin Motard is certainly a serious bit of kit. The bike rides on 17-inch wheels shod with 120/70 (front) and 180/55 (rear) tyres, fuel tank capacity is 17 litres and dry weight is 220 kilos.

But what is, perhaps, most notable about this Ghezzi-Brian creation is its ‘Dynamic Damping Action’ (DDA) system, which has been developed by Tractive Suspension. Like some other electronically-adjustable suspension systems that are currently available from BMW and Ducati, the Ghezzi-Brian Motoar’s DDA system allows riders to choose between comfort, road and sport modes, altering rear suspension behaviour accordingly, in real time. The smart sensor that controls this DDA system samples a host of variables at the rate of 25,000 samples per second, which means the system is able to continuously react to changes in riding conditions, without the rider actually noticing anything other than smooth, consistent suspension action at all times.

You can either buy the V-Twin Motard from Ghezzi-Brian or, if you have the skills, even get it in kit form and convert your own Griso. For more details, visit Ghezzi-Brian’s official website

Monday, December 10, 2012

Valentino Rossi: “Casey Stoner wasn’t man enough!”

Valentino Rossi vs Casey Stoner Valentino Rossi vs Casey Stoner
Valentino Rossi vs Casey Stoner Valentino Rossi vs Casey Stoner Valentino Rossi vs Casey Stoner
The gloves finally came off at Laguna Seca in 2008, and The Aussie bit the dust while The Italian went on to win. It should have ended there, but Casey never stopped bitching...

“There's a lot of adrenaline before the race, but it's a good feeling. But after the race starts, you are in another dimension. You get this high level of concentration and do what you have to do. Everything becomes clear,” says Valentino Rossi, in the December 2012 issue of Dainese’s magazine, Legends. Now 33 years old, the indomitable Italian rider dominated premier class motorcycle grand prix racings in the 2000s, winning no less than seven MotoGP world championships from 2001 to 2009. And with 105 race wins to date, he is second only to that other great Italian motorcycle racer, Giacomo Agostini, who won 122 races in his racing career.

Only Nicky Hayden, in 2006, and then Casey Stoner, in 2007, were able to stall The Doctor’s steamroller. And even then, Nicky’s 2006 MotoGP world championship win was possibly just a fluke, a freak happenstance, since the Kentucky Kid hasn’t been able to win a single race from 2007 onwards. But Stoner and Rossi have been going at it hammer and tongs for the last few years, each making no bones about the dislike they harbour for the other. In the end, Stoner decided to retire at the end of this year, having taken two MotoGP world championships (2007, with Ducati, and 2011, with Honda) in his career, while Rossi still seems to be in a different league altogether with his seven MotoGP world championships.

One race that MotoGP fans still remember is the 2008 race at Laguna Seca, where Stoner and Rossi had a ferocious battle, with the Italian finally winning the race and the Australian rider biting the dust. And as most followers of the sport already know, Casey could never stop whining about it. “Stoner started to hate me just because he lost. After that [the 2008 USGP at Laguna], he always seemed to talk about the past, this race, because he wasn't man enough to understand that at that time, he lost!” says Rossi.

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