Monday, February 11, 2013

2014 Honda CTX700, CTX700D are probably the world’s dullest motorcycles

2014 Honda CTX700 2014 Honda CTX700 2014 Honda CTX700 2014 Honda CTX700 2014 Honda CTX700 2014 Honda CTX700
The 2014 Honda CTX700. Deathly dull and ugly...

Honda seem to have taken it upon themselves to build the dullest, most boring motorcycles in the world. After the NC700X and CBR500 series, they’ve announced the 2014 CTX700, which is, presumably, a motorcycle, but could just as well be a toaster, sewing machine, microwave oven, washing machine or any other household appliance.

“Made for travel with an efficient fairing and windscreen up front, the CTX700 boasts features that make it an ideal partner for exploring all that the open road can offer,” claim Honda. The bike is powered by a liquid-cooled SOHC 670cc parallel-twin and has a regular 6-speed gearbox, while the CTX700D gets an automatic dual clutch transmission (DCT), which allows riders to either use a fully automatic mode or use paddle-shifters to shift gears without having to use a clutch. The CTX700D also gets ABS.

So why should you buy a Honda CTX700 or CTX700D? The ‘benefits’ that Honda claim for the CTX are an upper fairing and windscreen that divert wind around the rider, adding to comfort and reducing fatigue, abundant torque in the low-end and midrange for easily accessible power, crisp throttle response, linear and smooth power delivery, an engine balancer shaft that quells vibration for smooth operation and rubber-mounted footrests that add to rider comfort. Yawn…

Jon Parsons’ three-wheeled motorcycle pushes performance boundaries

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As you can see in the video here, Jon Parsons' three-wheeled motorcycle is an idea that seems to work. Now if only this idea can be grafted on to a ZX-10R Ninja...

Not all of us believe that two wheels are adequate for a motorcycle. Jon Parsons certainly doesn’t. A UK-based chartered engineer who’s currently working as a designer with an aerospace company, Jon set up his own outfit, Dynamic Design Studio, back in 2006 in order to develop an in-line three-wheel motorcycle. “I have been riding motorcycles since I was 16 and have owned mopeds, touring bikes, sportsbikes, trials bikes, motocross bikes, enduro bikes and quads. I ride regularly and enjoy motorcycling in mainland Europe,” he says. We quite liked his 3-wheeled bike – it looks pretty interesting and by at the way it goes (see video above) seems to be quite a capable machine really.

We caught up with Jon for a quick chat to understand a bit more about how and why this 3-wheeled bike exists. Here’s what he had to say:

On how he came up with this idea for building a 3-wheeled motorcycle

Two events triggered me to think about 3x2x2 bikes. The first was while I was watching the first Weston-Super-Mare beach race. The motocross and enduro bikes really struggled to get enough grip to get over the largest dunes. I considered possible solutions like having more tyre contact with the sand to stop the wheel from ‘digging in’ and give the necessary grip. A wider tyre or even two wheels side by side (like a trike) would do this, but the resulting bike would not be able to lean into corners like a conventional bike. The answer appeared to be three wheels in a line and for this to work the wheels would need to be able to move up and down independently, and the rear wheel would need to be driven and steered.

Friday, February 08, 2013

2013 MV Agusta Brutale range gets switchable Bosch ABS

2013 MV Agusta Brutale range gets switchable Bosch ABS
What goes hard must stop harder. And with Bosch's 9MP switchable ABS, the 2013 MV Brutale range should be able to do just that...

According to a press note from MV Agusta, all 2013 Brutale models – the Brutale 1090, Brutale 1090 R and Brutale 1090 RR – are now available with ABS. The latest Bosch 9MP ABS is used on the entire range and this offers ‘Normal’ and ‘Race’ mode operation. Bosch’s 9MP ABS is said to be the lightest, most compact ABS unit for motorcycles and incorporates internal pressure sensors that work together with independent wheels speed sensors to give the ECU all the information it needs to allow maximum deceleration without loss of control.

The Bosch ABS can be switched off by the rider at any time and, on the Brutale 1090 RR, there is a Race Mode which can be utilized specifically on the race track or during aggressive street riding. Cool, eh? :-)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Doctor is happy with the 2013 Yamaha YZR M1

Valentino Rossi tests the 2013 Yamaha YZR M1 in Sepang Valentino Rossi tests the 2013 Yamaha YZR M1 in Sepang Valentino Rossi tests the 2013 Yamaha YZR M1 in Sepang Valentino Rossi tests the 2013 Yamaha YZR M1 in Sepang
Back with Yamaha, The Doctor is fast once again...

“I’m very happy about the first day of testing with the M1. After two seasons away I was able to come back on the bike and remember the good feeling I always had with it. I am also happy because I was quite fast from the morning,” said Valentino Rossi yesterday, after the first test session in Sepang, aboard the 2013 Yamaha YZR M1. “We worked on the settings to make some improvements and we made some good steps. In the afternoon we started to work on the new parts for the season. It’s just the first test but the potential is high and I am in a good position, I am in fourth place but not far from the other three guys. I am very positive that we can improve over the next few days but I’m happy with the start,” said The Doctor, who was initially the fastest rider during the majority of the morning session, though he ended the day in fourth place, behind Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez.

So, is Valentino Rossi going to be able to win the 2013 MotoGP world championship? That may or may not happen but at least The Doctor has a fighting chance now…

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Makoto Hirano: “If Honda had given up oval piston development, there wouldn’t have been any VTEC”

1992 Honda NR750 1992 Honda NR750 1992 Honda NR750 1992 Honda NR750
Only Honda could have done the oval-piston NR, says Hirano and he's right of course. Even after two decades, the NR represents unsurpassed engineering brilliance...

Honda produced just 300 units of the NR and that was back in 1992 – more than two decades ago – and yet, for us, that bike remains one of the most intriguing, deeply fascinating motorcycles ever built anywhere in the world. Some of that fascination is down to the NR’s oval-piston engine, of course – the NR’s massively complicated four-cylinder 750cc engine had 8 valves per cylinder and two conrods per piston, which allowed the engine to function as a V8. No, honestly, we don’t really understand how it worked, but the fact that it did, and that Honda actually built a streetbike – one that cost US$50,000 back in 1992 – around this engine was some kind of a miracle. And it really doesn’t matter that with 125bhp at 14,000rpm, the NR engine’s output doesn’t really look anything special today, when compared to modern-day 750cc sportsbikes.

“When I look back at it, I’m not sure if we were experimenting with cutting-edge technology or obsessed with foolish ideas,” says Toshimitsu Yoshimura, speaking to Inspire magazine. “We didn’t think much about whether the engine would actually turn over or even whether it would be practical at all. We weren’t worried about those things since we just wanted to make it work. To create anything, you must put your heart and soul to it. The development of oval piston engines impressed that upon me, as well as on the other young engineers,” adds Toshimitsu, who was one of the engineers who actually worked on the development of the Honda NR’s oval-piston engine.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2013 MTT Y2K could be out by July this year

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How fast do you want to go? Would about 450km/h be sufficient...?

According to a report in Autocar, Marine Turbine Technologies (MTT) are now working on a new version of the Y2K hyperbike, which is expected to be launched in the US and in Europe by mid-2013. Fitted with a Rolls-Royce C-20B gas turbine engine that produces 420 horsepower (100bhp more than the original Y2K that was launched in the year 2000), the 2013 MTT Y2K, which is currently undergoing wind tunnel testing in the UK, is expected to have a top speed of more than 440km/h. And since the original Y2K was able to accelerate from zero to 320km/h in 5.4 seconds, the new one should be able to do it in a bit less than that.

Other new bits on the 2013 MTT Y2K could include things like carbonfibre wheels, carbonfibre full fairing, an aluminium alloy chassis, bigger brake discs with radial-mount calipers at the front, a 240-section rear tyre and in keeping with developments in technology that have happened in the last 10 years, more advanced electronics, including ABS. The price hasn’t been confirmed yet, of course, but expect to pay about US$200,000 for the privilege of owning the world’s fastest, quickest accelerating jet-propelled motorcycle…

Source: Autocar

Saturday, January 26, 2013

MZ Vintage Racer sketch makes us wish for a revival of the German brand

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A vintage racer based on the 1969 MZ ES 250? Yes, please!

Back in 1906, one Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen, from Denmark, bought an empty cloth factory in Zschopau, in the Erzgebirge region of Saxony, in the former East Germany. Rasmussen went on to build steam-powered cars in this facility (under the DKW name) and was also building some very basic motorcycles (essentially bicycles with small engines strapped on…) at the facility by the early-1920s. By 1929, motorcycle production had gone up to 60,000 units per annum and DKW was the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.

In 1956, the motorcycle division of Rasmussen’s company was renamed Motorradwerk Zschopau (MZ), which is German for ‘motorcycle factory at Zschopau.’ MZ did well for themselves in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, winning the prestigious International Six Day Trial (ISDT) from 1963-67 and then again in 1969 and 1987. Their one-millionth motorcycle – an MZ ETS 250 Trophy Sport – rolled off the assembly line in Zschopau in 1972, and their two-millionth motorcycle, an MZ ETZ 250, was produced in 1983. After that, however, MZ ran into trouble since they weren’t able to keep up cheaper and more modern motorcycles from Japan.

The 1990s were bad times for the company, with MZ being renamed to MuZ, being bought out by Malaysian Corporation, the Hong Leong Group in 1996, and finally stopping motorcycle production in 2008, after the Malaysian backers withdrew their support. There was a revival of sorts in 2009, when former GP racers Ralf Waldmann and Martin Wimmer bought the MZ brand and while the company currently only makes an odd bunch of scooters, there are rumours that they will launch a 600cc sportsbike based on their Moto2 racebike.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Josh Hayes’s AMA Superbike Championship winning Yamaha R1: What lies beneath

Josh Hayes's 2012 AMA Superbike championship winning Yamaha R1 Josh Hayes's 2012 AMA Superbike championship winning Yamaha R1
Josh Hayes's 2012 AMA Superbike championship winning Yamaha R1 Josh Hayes's 2012 AMA Superbike championship winning Yamaha R1 Josh Hayes's 2012 AMA Superbike championship winning Yamaha R1 Josh Hayes's 2012 AMA Superbike championship winning Yamaha R1
Is Josh Hayes's Yamaha R1 different from the one you have in the garage? Er... yes, just a bit different. But his AMA Superbike championships are down to his sheer talent...

In 2012, Josh Hayes won his third consecutive AMA Superbike championship aboard his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1. For those who’ve ever wondered what goes into preparing a production-based racebike at this level, here’s what it takes. Josh’s team started with a stock R1 – the same machine that you can buy in Yamaha showrooms – and then went mad with aftermarket bits. Modifications include a racing-spec Öhlins inverted fork and Öhlins race-spec rear shock, OZ magnesium racing-spec wheels, Braking USA wave rotors, Brembo racing calipers and brake pads, Sharkskinz lightweight bodywork and Zero Gravity windscreen.

The 2012 AMA Superbike championship winning Yamaha R1 also got Graves Motorsports rearset controls and handlebars, a Dynojet quick shifter with a reversed shift pattern (commonly used in racing) and a host of engine mods, including a Magneti Marelli ECU, STM clutch components and a Graves Motorsports underseat titanium exhaust system. Other racing bits included the use of a lightweight Speedcell battery, Vortex sprockets and D.I.D ERV3 drive chain, NGK Racing spark plugs, Yamalube performance lubricants and Dunlop’s made-in-America KR449 rear and KR448F front racing slicks.

In addition to a Yamaha R1 and the above mentioned mods, you need, of course, Mr Hayes’s talent to win races and championships in the AMA Superbike series… :-)

Valentino Rossi: “At this moment I have to be a little quiet…”

Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo visit Jakarta, Indonesia Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo visit Jakarta, Indonesia Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo visit Jakarta, Indonesia Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo visit Jakarta, Indonesia
The question that's on everyone's mind is whether Valentino Rossi still has it in him to win MotoGP races and perhaps even a world championship, and The Doctor knows it

“I am so proud to wear the new logo and am very happy to be back in the family! I cannot wait for another opportunity to ride the M1. I think the Yamaha Factory Team will be very strong this year with myself and Jorge. For me at this moment I have to be a little quiet and try to understand what my level is with the bike after the first test. My last Grand Prix victory was in 2010 so my first goal is to come back onto the podium as soon as possible, and to try to win a race,” said Valentino Rossi, during a recent visit to Jakarta, Indonesia.

“I’m feeling very positive about the 2013 season. I think the arrival of Valentino is good and we have a very strong team now. I know he is a very talented rider. We will start trying the new bike in Sepang at the next test; I think we have a great chance to be world champion again. It is going to be very difficult as always, it’s the toughest category. We are confident with our possibilities though and we are one of the favourites,” added Jorge Lorenzo.

So, can The Doctor revive his glory years once more in 2013? We hope, and pray, that he does. Only then will the Ducati years be forgotten...

Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo visit Jakarta, Indonesia Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo visit Jakarta, Indonesia Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo visit Jakarta, Indonesia Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo visit Jakarta, Indonesia

SBK Championship commemorative special edition 2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory announced for the US

SBK Championship commemorative special edition 2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory announced for the US SBK Championship commemorative special edition 2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory announced for the US
The 2013 Aprilia RSV4 SBK Championship edition will only be available in the US

Aprilia have announced a ‘2012 SBK Championship commemorative special edition 2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory,’ which will only be made available in North America. Created in honour of the factory racebike on which Max Biaggi won the 2012 World Superbikes championship, this special edition RSV4 features some unique features, including new, more advanced 3-level ABS from Bosch, Brembo M430 front brake calipers and front brake master cylinder, a more advanced form of the Aprilia’s traction control system (with different fuel mapping and a wheelie control system for racing use) and revised engine positioning for improved weight distribution.

Other unique bits on this special edition RSV4 include a special paintjob, a higher-performance exhaust system, friction reduction and improved crankcase ventilation for the V4 engine, 200/55 tyre for the 17-inch rear wheel, a redesigned 18.5-litre fuel tank taken directly from Aprilia’s SBK RSV4 race machines and new ‘satin finish’ headlight. Aprilia also claim that ergonomics have been improved and the special edition bike’s seat height has been lowered by 5mm. Prices for the bike will be announced on the 1st of February.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2013 Honda RC213V unveiled in Madrid

2013 Honda RC213V unveiled
2013 Honda RC213V unveiled 2013 Honda RC213V unveiled 2013 Honda RC213V unveiled 2013 Honda RC213V unveiled
Along with a host of technical updates, the 2013 Honda RC213V, which was unveiled in Madrid today, get a new livery and we think it looks rather good!

Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez today unveiled the 2013 Honda RC213V MotoGP racebike in Madrid, in the presence of Repsol Chairman and CEO, Antonio Brufau, Executive Vice President of Honda Racing Corporation (HRC), Shuhei Nakamoto, and Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta. The bike gets a new livery for this year, in keeping with Repsol’s new corporate identity.

“I am very happy to have been here at Campus Repsol today, and to have been the one unveiling the bike and its new livery. We'd run with the old design for a long time and I think that now is a good moment for a change. This year's bike has a fresh touch to it, which can give us a boost at the races. I hope the fans like it too,” said Dani Pedrosa. “I'm starting this pre-season really keen. I can't wait to get to Malaysia and to have a few days to put the bike through its paces, enjoy myself and see which parts we are going to use for the opening race, as in the Valencia test after the last race of 2012 we had so much rain that we couldn't do much,” he added.

“I am very happy to have presented the new colour scheme for my move up from Moto2 to MotoGP. Seeing the bike painted with the Repsol and HRC logos makes you feel very satisfied with this new step forward —it makes you realise what a dream-come-true it is. I'm like a kid with new shoes! I enjoyed the atmosphere of the presentation at Campus Repsol and I was able to see that the press attention for MotoGP is light years ahead of that for Moto2. We'll adapt to this, little-by-little. In the end, the important thing is what happens on the track, so I can't wait for the Malaysia tests to start,” said Márquez.

Tim Cameron on motorcycle design: “There is much more road to travel, stylistically…”

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Tim Cameron interview Tim Cameron interview
Tim Cameron and the legendary V-Rex (top) and renderings of Tim's latest project (above), the supercharged BMW Shadow Boxer. Damn cool, eh...?

Remember the Travertson V-Rex? Sure you do. The futuristic-looking cruiser came out a few years ago and pretty much rocked the establishment with its outrageous, over-the-top styling. We loved this bike, which was designed by one very talented Aussie – Tim Cameron. So when we recently stumbled upon his latest design sketches for a supercharged BMW, we thought this is a good time to catch up with Tim for a quick chat. Here are some excerpts from what he had to say to Faster and Faster:

On whether the V-Rex made him rich and famous

Hah! Rich and famous! Yeah well... not quite but it came close! For a while there it looked like it was going to be in Transformers 2 – the toy deal alone would have been incredible – but alas, it didn't happen. The V-Rex did however make it to the silver screen with a bit part in Fast and Furious 4, and has also starred in a US TV ad for Dell computers.

I got a lot of work from the publicity surrounding the V-Rex, including design work for an electric motorcycle and a second and third machine for Travertson. A lot of the work was not at all bike-related, which I don't mind – it is a lot of fun designing anything. I've done such things as Cigar cases, 3D printers, wall murals, desk lights and some model toys, and had a blast!

On his love for bikes and how he got started with motorcycle design

I fell in love with motorcycles at age 14, on a moonlit ride through a lonely forest, on a dented and faded borrowed 100cc trail bike in the middle of the Australian wilderness. Since I turned 'legal,' I have always owned at least one bike. I ride almost every day. I stumbled into motorcycle design when I started learning 3D computer graphics and modelling back in the late ’80s, on the earliest programs, for which no formal training courses existed. I decided I needed a subject for modelling, which I would not give up on, as it was very tough to learn, and so started building from the gigantic pile of sketches I had been keeping in my desk drawer.

The bike I dreamed about as a kid was the first Kawasaki Z900 in original burnt orange livery. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I remember my big brother going for a test ride on one as a trade up for his bright orange Kawasaki 500 Mach III – a scary machine. The Mach III (love that name) was my very first encounter with a bike, when my brother took me for a couple of rides that I can still remember.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jay Leno drives the Aptera electric trike

Jay Leno refers to the Aptera as an 'electric car,' but since it has only three wheels, we'd say it's a trike and hence deserves to be here on this website. A battery-powered road-legal three-wheeler that looks like an airplane? Hell, yes, bring it on....!  :-D

Vilner Aprilia Stingray: RSV Tuono Untamed

Vilner Aprilia Stingray
Vilner Aprilia Stingray Vilner Aprilia Stingray Vilner Aprilia Stingray Vilner Aprilia Stingray
We're not too sure about the extended swingarm, but otherwise the Vilner Aprilia Stingray looks good. And with Ms Karolina Bratanova sat on the bike, hmmm...  :-)

What happens when Bulgaria-based custom shop, Vilner, get their hands on an Aprilia RSV Tuono? The bike gets a new front fender, a heavily modified headlamp unit and LED turn indicators, side-mounted spoilers/shrouds with air vents designed to keep the engine cool, reshaped fuel tank and bits of high-quality leather wrapping for some of the plastics. And lo! and behold, there you have it – the Vilner Aprilia Stingray, finished in a nice shade of metallic brown.

Apart from the mods mentioned above, the Aprilia Stingray also gets tinted taillamps, black-painted exhausts, an extended swingarm (15cm longer than the stock item) and matt black paint on the lower part of the chassis. The wheels have also been repainted and their silver colour goes quite well with the rest of the bike we think.

For more of Vilner’s work, visit their website

Random Ramblings