Saturday, January 26, 2013
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
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… :-)
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...
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
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 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 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
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
Monday, January 21, 2013
“Our idea was to make a classic motorcycle, with a rather retro look, but blended with modern technology inside. For this, we used as a 2008 base model BMW R1200R. Completely redesigned the frame to change the centre of gravity and the angle of the front fork, in the process lowering the bike and improving its appearance. Used a classic adjustable fork at the front and BMW R71 fuel tank that’s been slightly modified,” says Ivaylo Trendafilov of Galaxy Custom, who has designed and built the bike.
“Made the handlebars more compact, while maintaining all of its components – even the heating. K&N filters have been used for their looks and also for the way they change the sound of the BMW’s engine. Exhaust pipes are reverse with thermal tape, with mini silencers to make them sound good. The spoked wheels that we’ve used are from Kineo, who’re based in Italy, and these are shod with Avon Supermoto Distanzia tyres. Other bits include large-diameter wave-type brake discs with radial-mount four-piston calipers at the front, a retro-style headlamp, custom-built seat and custom-built fenders that are made of aluminium. Finally, we also decided to go with a classic BMW paintjob – black, with white stripes. The bike was completed in six months,” says Trendafilov.
Well, what can we say – we think the bike looks fabulous. We hope to see more bikes form Galaxy Custom soon!
Sunday, January 20, 2013
It may not be perfect, but the 2013 MV Agusta F4 range (including R and RR variants) looks gorgeous, has top-spec electronics and is an absolute blast to ride...
For as long as we can remember, the MV Agusta F4 hasn’t finished on top in the litre-class superbike shootouts that a lot of bike magazines and websites do every year. And the basic design, though updated three years ago, is now more than a decade old. The F4 still is, however, gorgeous looking and as deeply lustworthy as only a top-spec Italian superbike can be. So what do the experts have to say about how the 2013 F4 is, to ride? Here are excerpts from two road tester’s opinions:
“Both F4s are ferocious above 9000rpm, but the F4 RR is in a different league all together. Whilst there’s plenty of electronic brain within the fairings, it takes its toll from the rider to keep up with the sheer speed. Things happen so quickly above 10K rpm and acceleration is immense!”
“The F4s are not the most comfortable motorcycles in the world, and it’s a real struggle to escape the wind as I can’t push myself far enough backwards to get any protection from the windscreen. On the Valencia circuit, this didn’t really matter as the 201 ponies pushed big holes in the air like a hot knife through butter.”
“The standard F4 with its Marzocchi fork and Sachs rear shock also performs incredibly well, and you need to be a top-notch rider to really exploit the benefits of the F4 RR when lap times are concerned. In terms of engine power, the F4 feels plenty powerful enough and it’s only in the upper 3,000rpm I could really feel the difference. With the new traction control and the new set of Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SPs featuring a 200/55 rear tyre, there was plenty of grip even with a low TC setting. Both F4s are fantastic superbikes and perfect track tools. Hardcore as few and faster than most, but they take time to get used to.”
- Tor Sagen, Motorcycle.com