Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Apart from the usual explosive action you’d expect from a Die Hard movie, one more reason to watch A Good Day to Die Hard is Yuliya Snigir, who’s character in the film – Irina, a Russian mobster – gets on and rides a Yamaha R6. The actress and the bike were both present at the movie’s premiere in London last week and, we have to admit, Ms Snigir looks suitably hot on the lean, lithe and powerful Yamaha. This is one movie we certainly want to watch!
Update: And here's the 2016 Yamaha R6 - unchanged mechanically, but now available in Yamaha's yellow-and-black 60th Anniversary livery
Saturday, February 16, 2013
It doesn't matter that Tanzania's bikers only ride cheap, Chinese-built motorcycles and that they do not have access to fancy gear. They still ride because it sets them free...
Based in London, Kit Oates is a professional photographer who works with publications like Timeout, Flamingo, The Chap, The Observer, the Japanese edition of Vogue and various others. He’s also been a guest lecturer on photography at the University of Westminster and Eton college and, when not photographing, he says he attempts to refurbish his 1971 VW Camper van.
Kit recently visited Tanzania to do some photography for an American company organizing a volunteering program in Patandi, a small village in the East African country. There, Kit also happened to meet and photograph some of the country’s biker gangs and as he got to speak to these bikers, he got some interesting insights into the biking culture there. Here’s Kit’s story, in his own words:
I was mostly photographing at local schools and orphanages and soon realized that the opportunities the kids had after graduating were limited compared to the opportunities available to students back home in England. Industry was lacking in this part of the country, and most students were destined for a life tending the family farm or hawking souvenirs to tourists.
So it was with keen interest that I began photographing the groups of bikers. Not just a few, but lots, sitting on the edge of the highway, some hanging out, some looking for work or something to courier. In a country of huge unemployment and poverty, they seemed to be so far removed from trouble, casually hanging out as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
Friday, February 15, 2013
We have to admit, we like the idea of two-wheel-drive (2WD) / all-wheel-drive (AWD) on a motorcycle. Provided that issues like extra weight and steering/suspension response are taken care of, a powered front wheel on a bike should make for extra traction and could possibly redefine the whole riding experience. There have been some well-publicized attempts at using AWD on bikes in the past, though there doesn’t really seem to be any interest in this from mainstream motorcycle manufacturers. We don’t know if that’s because AWD technology is too expensive or too complicated for production bikes but whatever the reason, we do think it’s a pity that no manufacturer seems to be interested in developing this technology.
Now, while mainstream manufacturers aren’t interested, talented individuals continue to work on AWD bikes and the latest such machine that we’ve come across is the Lawson all-wheel-drive bike, which is based on a production-spec KTM 300 EXC. With AWD equipment (front drive chain, sprockets, U-joints etc.), the Lawson bike still only weighs about 13 kilos more than the stock KTM and its creators claim that the bike is easier to ride off-road, climbs steep and rocky hills more readily and steers better in sand, mud, snow and loose rocky terrain. They also say the bike is ‘greener,’ since it ‘surmounts obstacles by traction, not by digging trenches.’
Based in Alberta, Canada, Dale Han is a young motorcycle designer who’s done a bit of design work for companies like Suzuki and BRP and who’s now working as a freelancer. We saw some of his work on LinkedIn and Coroflot and found it interesting, so caught up with him for a quick chat. If you’re looking at getting into motorcycle design, or even if you just have a passing interest in motorcycle design, what Dale has to say might be interesting for you:
“In these tough times of recession, finding design work in the motorcycle industry has been difficult. What I’ve learned from this experience is that location, a wide variety of skills and interests both in and outside of motorcycles, networking, and exposure are all necessities in this business. Location is a tricky issue, getting a visa to work in a foreign country is a bit tough right now. Thank goodness for good friends and networking – sites like LinkedIn, Coroflot, and motorcycle forums are all helpful in getting exposure. Falling back on other skills like clay or CAD modelling can really help pay the bills when there isn't design work available.”
“I have always had a love for vintage bikes. Every era had something special to offer – British parallel twins from the 60s and Italian bikes from the 70s are some of my favourite bikes to draw inspiration from. Other notable bikes are the Bimota Tesi 1D, and I think this has got to be on everyone’s list the Britten V1000! My all-time favourites are the bikes from the machine age. There seemed to be a great deal of experimentation with frame and engine design as well as the packaging bikes from the 20s as well as bikes from the 30s to the 40s. The stark contrast between these periods has always intrigued me. There approach from innocence and naive exploration of form in the ‘Roaring 20s’ to this stark conservative mechanical function in the 30s is a lesson in how quickly the social mood and mentality can change.”
Labels: Motorcycle Design
Triumph have announced a new special edition of the Speed Triple R – the ‘Dark.’ The bike has been created in collaboration with custom paint shop, 8 Ball, and only 30 units of the Speed Triple R Dark will be produced. Technical specifications remain unchanged though the Dark will come with a colour-matched belly pan and fly screen as standard.
“Employing the very latest creative paint shop techniques, Triumph has created a striking crystal midnight black veil effect over bright scarlet red. The bike’s livery is airbrushed in intense white with a smoky aged appearance. Both sides of the tank carry a hand airbrushed union flag adding to the craftsmanship and allure of the bike,” says a press release from Triumph.
The new Speed Triple R Dark will be available at Triumph dealerships from next week and the bike is priced at £11,549 OTR.
Monday, February 11, 2013
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…
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
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? :-)
Labels: MV Agusta
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
“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
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
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…
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.
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