Saturday, September 30, 2006

2007 Yamaha R1: Spy pics?

The 2007 Yamaha R1

If reports and 'scoop pics' on some websites are true, then what you see above could possibly be the 2007 Yamaha R1. No details on engine/chassis/suspension changes yet, but styling looks all right. Yeah, 'all right' rather than astounding, radical or mind-blowing. Though the existing R1 is already a very capable machine, we were expecting a completely new, totally revamped and restyled and very radical new R1 from Yamaha for 2007, and if this is the new bike, we must say we're a bit disappointed...

More details as they become available. In the meanwhile, go here to download the Yamaha kit which'll let you make a paper replica of the R1 at home. If you're into that sort of thing.

Update (10th Oct 2006): 2007 Yamaha R1 unveiled at the Intermot in Germany

Also see:
2007 Suzuki GSX-R1000 K7
2007 Kawasaki 1400GTR and ZX-10R
2007 Kawasaki ZX-6R
2007 Aprilia Tuono R Factory
2007 Ducati Multistrada 1100

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Michelin Challenge Design: The Hyanide Concept

Hyanide - your uni-trak urban battletank!

Ever feel frustrated with how dumb (and seemingly blind) car drivers and cabbies behave? Want to run them over with your motorcycle and come out on top? We don’t suggest you try that with your Ducati 999R, but the Hyanide may let you get away with a bit of bumper bashing. Shown at this year’s Michelin Challenge Design, the Hyanide concept runs on a flexible rubber track, which ensures maximum traction on all kinds of road and off-road surfaces.

The displayed models used a CCM 500 ATV engine, but the vehicle has been engineered to be compatible with electric motors as well as hydrogen fuel cell propulsion units. The Hyanide’s young designers, who are from Germany, say that the machine ‘is designed as an everyday use vehicle for all areas in the world, such as Alaska, Greenland, desert areas or mountain regions like the Himalaya. It can carry two persons and provides much space to transport any kind of small to midsize goods.’

You think the Hyanide is interesting? Then also look at the Bombardier Embrio, Volkswagen GX3, Segway i2 and x2 runabouts, the Piaggio MP3, this homebrewed trike, Jesse James’ Aero Bike, and five of the weirdest motorcycles ever built!

Imagine car drivers taking on this

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jesse James' seven-cylinder, 2800cc, Aero Bike!

The engine has seven, 400cc cylinders, and makes 110bhp!

Bikes that are fitted with aircraft engines? Take this then, the latest from custom bike builder Jesse James. Sure, it looks outrageous, but there’s more to this bike than just the styling. It’s powered by an Australian-built, seven-cylinder, 2800cc, radial aircraft engine, which makes around 110 horsepower. We don’t suppose it would be as fast as the jet-engined MTT Y2K, but still, the Aero Bike shouldn’t be too bad for pottering around town. More on this machine on the Cycle World website.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

2007 launch for new BMW superbike!

BMW created a stir when they launched the radical K1 superbike in 1988. Twenty years on, can they do a repeat performance in 2007?

BMW are believed to be working on a new superbike for 2007. This bike will be powered by their 1200cc, air-cooled ‘Boxer’ engine, which could be making as much as 130 horsepower! BMW hope to compete against the Ducati 999 (which is also due to be replaced with a bigger-engined, more powerful machine) with this bike. The new super-BMW is expected to be unveiled at the upcoming Cologne Motor Show in Germany.

BMW are also likely to be working on a big, fully automatic scooter, as well as an all-new cruiser. In 2007, the company is all set to go far more mainstream than they've ever been in the past. With their new 800 series motorcycles and HP versions of some of their existing bikes, BMW want to lure customers away from Japanese machines. Looks like there is no holding back the Germans this time!

Also see: The awesome BMW HP2!
German aggression: Schnitzer BMWs

An absolutely insane video of various BMW HP2 bikes being ridden at the Erzberg Rodeo in Austria

Dani Pedrosa tests 2007 Honda V4 800cc MotoGP bike at Motegi

Pedrosa, in action on next year's 800cc V4 MotoGP bike

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa tested Honda’s V4 800cc MotoGP bike yesterday, at the Motegi circuit in Japan. As Honda’s engineers tweak, fettle and prepare the 800cc bike for 2007 MotoGP battle, Pedrosa put in 30 laps of the 4.06km Motegi circuit to fine-tune development. His best lap time on the new 800cc machine was 1m48.210s, about half a second slower than his best lap time during the Japanese MotoGP on Sunday.

Said Pedrosa about the 2007 machine, ‘The engine character feels a little different, and this is to be expected, but the package feels quite similar to the RC211V. Some things about the bike feel smaller, and the rear seat is much shorter, which makes the whole bike look more compact. The bike has some characteristics which are a little more like a 250cc, but it's still a MotoGP bike. The lap time today is quite good for a first test, though it's too early to say whether it will be faster than the 990. The cornering speeds feel very similar to the RCV – though the corner speed at Motegi is very low because there are many hairpins, so it's very difficult to say definitely whether it'll be quicker. This was a good first test though.”

Apart from Pedrosa, who should definitely be a rider to watch out for in 2007, there'll be Hayden, so Repsol Honda could be strong contenders for the 2007 MotoGP championship. Rossi will be back on his Yamaha, while Capirossi and Gibernau will be back with Ducati. In fact, the Ducati Marlboro Team also tested their GP7 800cc MotoGP bike at Motegi, with Sete Gibernau putting in 43 laps, setting a best time of 1m47.44s. Capirossi also put in more than 40 laps, his best time being 1m47.91s. Yeah, 2007 should sure be a cracking year for MotoGP!

Monday, September 25, 2006

2008 Kawasaki 1400GTR: Insanity Express

A 190-horsepower, shaft-driven sports-tourer? That'd be the 2008 Kawasaki 1400GTR!

Kawasaki are putting the ZZR1400’s 190-horsepower engine to good use – they’re building the 1400GTR sport-tourer around it. Billed as a ‘transcontinental supersport’ machine, the 1400GTR gets a monocoque chassis, and a low-maintenance shaft-drive system instead of the ZZR1400’s chain-drive. The 1400GTR’s ‘Tetra-Lever’ shaft-drive uses an all-new four-link design for enhanced performance, there’s an electrically adjustable windscreen on the bike, and an LCD display gives you an odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge, gear position indicator, estimated fuel mileage, and even a tyre pressure indicator.

As with the 2007 Kawasaki Z1000, the 1400GTR also gets an absolutely humungous (and unsightly!) exhaust...

The 1400GTR also gets KI-PASS (Kawasaki Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System), a ‘smart key’ ignition system with which Kawasaki hope to fight bike thieves. Integrated hard luggage makes the GTR’s touring intent clear, and four-piston radial-mount calipers mated to a pair of petal-style rotors handle braking duties up front. ABS will be an optional extra. Kawasaki are expected to bestow variable valve timing on the ZZR1400 engine for the 1400GTR. This would likely cure the ZZR engine's soft-ish low-end power delivery and make it more responsive at all rpms.

Billed as a 2008 model, the Kawasaki 1400GTR will hit showrooms by March 2007 and could be priced between US$12-15,000.

Update (12th September 2007): 2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R: First pics and details!

Also see:
2008 Kawasaki Z1400 and KTM RC8 pics!
New Yamaha V-Max to be launched in 2009...
250bhp V-Quad Intel chopper!
Beautiful: The Bimota DB2
Mighty mite: The Yamaha TZR50
2007 Honda CBR600RR wins best middleweight sportsbike awards...

2007 Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja: The sharpest sword!

The 2007 Kawasaki ZX-6R: leaner, meaner, ready to rock!

With an all-new 599cc engine (in place of the earlier 636cc unit), the 2007 ZX-6R is ready to rock. The new engine is significantly more compact than the old one, has a very high compression ratio of 13.9:1 and will likely rev to 16,000rpm. Kawasaki themselves describe the new engine as an ‘ultra-high-rpm powerplant.’

The new ZX-6R also gets a cassette-type transmission, which will allow racers to change gearing easily. There’s a slipper-type clutch as before, while front brakes are 300mm rotors gripped by radially-mounted four-piston calipers. The twin-spar aluminum frame is lighter, stiffer and shorter than before, and Kawasaki have been able to lengthen the swingarm slightly, without affecting the wheelbase. There’s a 41mm USD fork at the front, and the rear shock can be adjusted for high- and low-speed compression damping.

Up front, the 2007 ZX-6R gets projector-beam headlights and a centrally located ram-air intake. Kawasaki claim that the aerodynamics have been improved significantly. Expect the bike to be in showrooms before the end of this year, and price is likely to be around the US$8,500 mark.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

2007 Suzuki B-King: Production confirmed for Europe!

The 2007 Suzuki B-King packs a 200bhp, 1350cc inline-four!

In addition to the 2007 GSX-R1000, Suzuki also unveiled their 2007 B-King at the Paris Motor Show. The bike packs an all-new 1350cc inline-four, which is likely to make more than 200 horsepower, stock! This will make the B-King one of the fastest, most powerful naked bikes anywhere in the world, when it goes into production towards the end of 2007.

Suzuki have also updated their Bandit lineup for 2007 – styling has been revised and chassis and suspension have been reworked. The Bandit 1200 gets a capacity increase – it’s now the Bandit 1250 – and there’s also a smaller Bandit, the 650. Both naked and faired models will be available.

2007 Suzuki GSX-R1000 K7 shown at the Paris Motor Show

The 2007 Suzuki GSX-R1000 K7

Suzuki have revealed the 2007 GSX-R1000 at the Paris Motor Show in France. There’s a new dual-can exhaust system (necessitated due to new, more strict emissions norms) in place, probably because of which the bike has gained about seven kilos of weight.

The 1000cc inline-four engine’s bore and stroke remain the same – 73.4mm x 59mm, though Suzuki are claiming a significant increase in power over the 2006 model. Suzuki claim that aerodynamics have been improved, the chassis has been updated, and the big news on the 2007 GSX-R1000 is what’s being called traction control. This is a system where three different engine mapping configurations are available, and the rider can choose between these via a switch mounted on the handlebar. These settings are ‘standard,’ ‘sport,’ and ‘wet’ and will probably determine how aggressively the power is delivered to the rear wheel. In tricky conditions, the system could soften the power delivery, thereby reducing the chances of excessive wheelspin etc.

Other changes for 2007 include a new more compact 'Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve' fuel injection system, a new (larger) radiator for a ten percent increase in cooling capacity, and a new engine management system with massive computing power - up to four times the capacity of the previous models. There's also a new self-adjusting hydraulic clutch system, a revised chassis for better mass and a new, more rigid aluminum alloy swingarm. Suspension is more adjustable than ever before and a new electronically controlled steering damper has been fitted.

With the 2007 Yamaha R1, Honda CBR1000RR and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R also having been shown, it should be one hell of a battle all over again...

Go here to download hi-res Suzuki GSX-R1000 wallpaper!

Also see:

Evolution: Twenty years of the Suzuki GSX-R!

Watch a Fifth Gear video of the Suzuki GSX-R1000 vs a Westfield XTR4

The mighty Suzuki GSX-R1100 of the 1980s/1990s

The late, great, Suzuki Katana

Friday, September 22, 2006

Stephanie McLean: “Barry Sheene was a cheeky little sod!”

Barry Sheene - The really wild one!

Barry Sheene was, without question, one of the greatest, most talented, and toughest motorcycle racers of all time. Born in the UK in 1950, Sheene succumbed to cancer in March 2003.

Starting with Bultaco and after racing in the 125s for a few years (he won the British 125cc GP championship in 1970, riding for Suzuki), Sheene went racing on the 500s in 1974. In 1976, with five race wins, he won the 500cc world championship with Suzuki. He again won the 500cc championship in 1977, with six race wins in the season.

Sheene left the works Suzuki team after the 1979 season, and joined a privateer Yamaha team. Sheene’s career was blighted with serious crashes and injuries – at one stage, he had metal plates in both knees, 28 screws in his legs and a bolt in his left wrist. Barry Sheene retired from racing in 1984, and moved from England to Australia shortly after that. His biography – A Will to Win – was written by Michael Scott and chronicles Sheene’s life and times as one of the top motorcycle racers of the 1970s.

Barry, with his wife Stephanie, and on his racing bikes...

Sheene was a flamboyant man who lived the good life – fast cars, big houses, endorsement deals (with Brut, Diesel and others…), private aircraft and the most glamorous of women. He married Stephanie McLean, a gracious, tall, beautiful, Page 3 model and Barry and ‘Steph’ were one of the most glamorous couples of the 1970s.

Barry and Steph. Together, forever...

It was a terribly sad day when Sheene succumbed to cancer in March 2003, leaving behind his wife Stephanie and their two children. Recently, British magazine Classic Bike spoke to Stephanie, and here are excerpts from what she had to say about Barry, and their life together:

“I thought Barry was a cheeky little sod, very cocky and outrageous.”

“Brut? I hated it. So did Barry. He never wore it. Anyone who came around the house was welcome to take as many free samples as they wanted.”

“The riders from that time were extreme characters – very outrageous and lots of fun. Cecotto, Lucchinelli – Barry adored them all. Everything’s too politically correct these days.”

“We thought we were pretty ordinary. The press never bothered us as a couple. The journalists at the races were interested only in Barry, it was all about him.”

“He never took a bad race out on me. He might whinge to the press but that was that. But when he was injured, oh dear, he was a typical bloke. You know how it is.”

“When I first met him, his hair looked like someone had trimmed it around the bottom of one of his old pudding basin helmets. He was quite old fashioned when I met him. I had to trendy him up a bit.”

“The Seventies was like one big summer. We felt free. Then you wake up one morning and realize that you had a really good time then, but now it’s all gone. But I have no regrets and don’t believe Barry did. There’s nothing we would have done differently.”

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Turbo Hayabusa sets new streetbike top speed record

The Suzuki 'Flying Hippo' Hayabusa really is the real deal...

Frank 'The Flying Dutchman' Gillebaard has, according to some website reports, set a new top speed world record for modified streetbikes. During a recent event in the UK, in Elvington (on a disused airport…) Gillebaard hits speeds of 424.64km/h on his turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa. Reports say that he did this on street tyres, though we wonder which street tyres are capable of speeds in excess of 400km/h!

In second place was Jack Frost, who ran his turbo ’Busa at 411.68km/h, and in third was Andy Head, who hit 385.28km/h on his turbo Kawasaki ZX-12R. It just gets Faster and Faster… :-)

2007 Aprilia Tuono R Factory unveiled!

The 2007 Aprilia Tuono R Factory - the best streetfighter in the world!

The existing Aprilia Tuono R is already one of the maddest streetfighter style bikes around – one that gives full-blown superbikes a run for their money. And things are going to get even better with the 2007 model. The 2007 Tuono R continues with the latest Aprilia RSV-R V-twin engine, which makes 139 horsepower. Carbonfibre is used for the bellypan, the mudguards and the side panels. The engine gets various magnesium bits, and there are OZ forged aluminium wheels for you to ogle at. The Tuono R Factory, the hardest of them all, gets a new paint scheme and Aprilia will make only 300 units, so get your orders in now!

Aprilia is also expected to launch a completely revamped RS125, which will borrow styling cues from the new Tuono R. With 39bhp from its single-cylinder two-stroke engine, and stiff, lightweight chassis, this could well be a giant-killer.

Finally, Aprilia is also set to return to world superbikes in 2008, with an all-new v4-engined RS1000. Apparently, the bike is being designed by Sergio Robbiano, who once served as apprentice to none other than Massimo Tamburini himself. In recent times, Robbiano has designed the Bimota DB5 and DB6 Delirio machines, which says a lot about what he’s capable of. With Piaggio cash to fuel new bike development, Aprilia is definitely on the move!

Update (27th October 2006): Aprilia are expected to unveil their all-new V4 superbike at the EICMA show in Milan on the 14th of November! The company will also shown all-new Tuono 750, powered by a DOHC, 8-valve, 100bhp v-twin. And for those who like their motorcycles in moderation, there could be a milder machine, powered by an 850cc, SOHC, 70bhp v-twin. This bike will, in all probability, be offered with an automatic gearbox!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

2007 Ducati Hypermotard spotted testing, production confirmed

The dramatic new Ducati Hypermotard will go on sale in 2007!

One of the more outstanding concepts to come out of Italy in recent times – and a bike which enthusiasts have been fervently hoping will make it to production – the Ducati Hypermotard is finally on! There are various reports of the bike having been seen testing in and around Bologna, in Italy, and it seems certain that the bike will be in Ducati showrooms early next year. The Hypermotard is expected to weigh in at around 175 kilos, and pack up to 135 horsepower from its 1100cc V-twin. That is if it gets Ducati's new 1098cc v-twin. If Ducati choose to fit the Hypermotard with their 1100cc air-cooled unit, it should still have around 100 horsepower. So it should be an amazing machine either way!

There's seems to be no letting up in sportsbike development in Italy. Ducati is also expected to be ready with its 1200cc superbike by 2008, which will replace the 999. Aprilia and KTM are also expected to be ready with their 1200cc superbikes by 2008, so the world superbike racing should be a riot in that year!

Also see:
2007 Ducati 1098 Superbike
2007 BMW HP2 Megamoto
2007 BMW G650 XMoto
2007 KTM 690SM Supermoto
2007 BMW K1200R Sport
BMW HP2 video
KTM 950 Super Enduro R
2007 Aprilia Tuono R Factory

2007 Triumph Tiger: Ready to roar!

The 2007 Triumph Tiger is a far better looking machine than the earlier model, and should be more capable all around

Triumph is ready with the 2007 Tiger, and it looks much, much better and far more stylish than the old bike. The big dual-purpose machine seems to be more road-oriented this time and with a new three-cylinder, 113 horsepower, 1050cc engine (which replaces the earlier 955cc triple…), it shouldn’t be lacking in the grunt department either.

The 2007 Triumph Tiger also gets a new aluminum beam chassis (in place of the old bike’s tubular steel frame) and 43mm USD forks. Wheel sizes are, again, a more street-oriented 17-inches instead of the 19-inch wheels used earlier. Nissin disc brakes are used front and rear, with twin 320mm rotors at the front being gripped by four-piston radial-mounted calipers! There’s an all-new braced aluminum swingarm and adjustable rear suspension – all nods towards better handling on the street.

With the 2007 Tiger, Triumph should be in a good position to take on similar D-P and/or streetfighter-style bikes from Aprilia, Benelli, BMW, Ducati, Kawasaki, KTM, Yamaha and others.

The 2007 Tiger is more street-oriented, which is a good thing

Monday, September 18, 2006

2007 Husaberg FS550e: Supermoto supreme!

2007 Husaberg FS550e: Light weight, powerful engine and a well-sorted chassis

Off-road/dual-purpose specialists, Husaberg have unveiled their new track-focused (yet street legal) FS550e for supermoto racing. The lightweight bike is powered by a liquid-cooled, 550cc, single-cylinder, SOHC, 4-stroke engine. Husaberg have not quoted any power figures for the bike, but we don’t suppose it would be lacking in the power department!

The FS550e is fitted with street-oriented 17-inch wheels (wearing Michelin Pilot Sport rubber), electric starter, six-speed gearbox, and meaty suspension components – 48mm USD WP front fork, and stiff, 50mm, linkageless adjustable rear shock. For stopping duties, there are Brembo brakes – a 310mm front disc gripped by four-piston radial caliper, and a 220mm, single caliper rear disc.

The bike is pegged at US$9,090 which is a bit on the high side, but this machine is probably just the right stuff for serious racers. To see the bike in action, watch a video here. And also check out the competition from KTM and BMW!

Bombardier Embrio: One-wheeled Wonder

Ok, the Bombardier Embrio isn't a motorcycle, but it'll let you wheelie forever, so it deserves a place here! :-)

Bombardier introduced the first snowmobile back in 1942, and for the last 65 years, they’ve never stopped innovating – with trains, airplanes, watercraft and ATVs. This time, it’s the Embrio, which has been designed to whisk you through crowded city streets. Er, on one wheel.

The Embrio has been conceptualized by the Montreal-based Bombardier Recreational Products (a spinoff of the aviation-focused parent company), and uses hydrogen fuel-cell technology for propulsion. Its system of gyroscopes keeps it upright on one wheel when it’s on the move, though in standby mode, a pair of extra wheels automatically deploy to keep the Embrio from tipping over.

You can watch an animated video here, but there's no working prototype yet. Comparisons with the vaguely similar Segway machines is inevitable, but when asked about what he thought of the Embrio, Doug Field, Segway's vice-president of design, only said that ‘I respect the design and the flow of the Embrio, but there is a difference between that and a working prototype.’

The main difference between the Segway machines and the Embrio (if it’s ever made!), as far as potential users are concerned, would be that the Embrio would be much heavier and significantly faster than the Segway machines. Let’s see how this one pans out in the next few months…!

Top speed is expected to be in the region of 60km/h, and the front wheel automatically comes down when the Embrio is parked. Cool!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Remembering John Surtees

John Surtees remains the only man in the history of motorsport to win 350cc and 500cc motorcycle roadracing world championships, and the Formula 1 car racing world championship as well!

Valentino Rossi is the only man to have won motorcycle racing world championships in four classes – 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP. Freddie Spencer is the only man to have won 250cc and 500cc world championships in the same year (in 1985). And yet, both their accomplishments are overshadowed by those of one John Surtees – the only man to have won motorcycle racing world championships as well as the F1 crown!

Born in the UK in 1934, John Surtees won his first 500cc world championship in 1956, riding an MV Agusta. In 1958, 1959 and 1960, Surtees won both the 350cc and the 500cc world championships (!!!) and also became the first man ever to win the Senior Isle of Man TT three years in succession.

In 1960, at 26 years of age, Surtees switched from motorcycles to cars, making his Formula 1 debut driving for Lotus in the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. He moved to Ferrari in 1963, and won the F1 world championship in 1964.

Surtees retired from competition in 1972, and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1996. Surely, one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time! To read more about the man and the story of how he got into F1, go here

The Prancing Mouse: Ducati 999-powered Fiat 500!

The Fiat 500 is the cutest car we've seen. Now imagine a 150 horsepower Ducati V-twin under the bonnet... :-))

The simple, yet very charismatic late-1950s Fiat 500 is one of the cutest cars anywhere in the world. But, we have to accept, it could have done with a bit more power. So this Fiat F500 has been fitted with a Ducati V-twin, which pumps out more than 150 horsepower. It also gets a carbonfibre composite chassis, brembo disc brakes and sequential six-speed manual transmission. It won't actually outrun a Ferrari, but 0-100km/h time is claimed to be 4 seconds, and the car has a top speed of about 200km/h. Should be a right blast to drive, eh?

Go here for more cars that are powered by motorcycle engines!

An old Italian commercial for the Fiat 500. Charming!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Max Biaggi with Alstare Corona Extra in 2007

Max Biaggi will race a GSX-R1000 in world superbikes in 2007

Though Max Biaggi has been ousted from MotoGP, he’s coming back to motorcycle racing in 2007. Max has signed an agreement in Alleur, Belgium, with the Alstare Corona Extra team, to ride a Suzuki GSX-R1000 in next year’s World Superbike Championship. Biaggi is said to be fit and motivated and has already asked to test his new Suzuki GSX-R1000 K7 as soon as possible.

Said Max, “I have known Francis Batta [Alstare Corona Extra team manager] and his family for years and have a lot of respect for him, as he has devoted so much time and attention to promoting the profile of the World Superbike Championship. I am back in competitive sport and I am happy to be riding for an official team. I am as determined as ever and really want to win the Superbike World Championship. This is probably the biggest challenge of my sporting career."

Batta said, "Max Biaggi is definitely a valuable addition to my team and to the world of Superbike. I have enormous trust in his capabilities and know that his desire is to become the first Italian rider to win the World Superbike Championship."

We wonder what Rossi & Co. would have to say about Max’s move to WSB…

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Greatest 11s: Kawasaki ZZR1100 and Suzuki GSX-R1100

The Kawasaki ZZR1100. "It's like riding the blast wave of an endless explosion..." - Cycle World

Sometime in the early-1990s, a road test report of the Kawasaki ZZR1100 (called the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-11 in the American market) in the American magazine Cycle World, said that it was like ‘riding the blast wave of an endless explosion.’ And indeed, with a claimed 145 horsepower on tap, the ZZR1100 was capable of doing the quarter mile run in 10.25 seconds (the new ZZR1400 will do it in less than 10.50 seconds…), and would hit top speeds of close to 280km/h. Of course, even that was not enough for some, who'd fit a turbocharger to the bike for even more performance. Turbo ZZR1100s, with NOS kits, were capable of making more than 450 horsepower, and could do top speeds of 350km/h and more. Eeek! But even stock ZZR1100s were superb machines - an awesome blend of power, performance and long distance comfort. Read the diary of an incurable ZZR fanatic here.

Launched in 1990, and with a major update in 1993, the ZZR1100 was being made till 2001, after which the ZZR1200 took over. However, for enthusiasts all over the world, it’s the ZZR1100 that’s the definitive Kawasaki performance machine of all time – the ZZR1200 just could not match the 1100’s manic power delivery and raw sportsbike edge. Today’s super-light, super-fast 1000cc machines may make the ZZR100 look like a sport-tourer, but in the 1990s, the big Kaw was the baddest mutha on the block.

But while the ZZR1100 is an all-time great, there’s also another 1100cc motorcycle from Japan, which deserves to be ranked right up there with the Kawasaki. It’s the Suzuki GSX-R1100, which was launched in 1986. With continuing development, the GSX-R1100 had really become a force to reckon with by the mid-1990s.

With its extruded aluminum perimeter chassis, USD forks, six-piston brakes, distinctive styling and GSX-R street-cred, the mid-1990s Suzuki GSX-R1100 was one hell of a machine that was equally at home on the road and on the track. The GSX-R1100’s liquid-cooled DOHC inline-four made about 125 horsepower, and the bike could do the quarter mile in about 10.4 seconds. Top speed was in the region of 260km/h. Suzuki continued making the GSX-R1100 till 1998, after which the GSX-R1000 took over. But even though the 1100 isn’t with us today, it’ll be remembered as one of the greatest sportsbikes of all time!

Suzuki GSX-R1100

Light, fast and for the inexperienced, scary - the Suzuki GSX-R1100

Monday, September 11, 2006

2007 Ducati Multistrada 1100 announced

The Multistrada gets an additional 100cc of engine capacity

Rumors regarding Ducati’s new-for-2007 Multistrada 1100 have been doing the rounds for some time, and now they’ve been confirmed – the new bike has been officially announced. The chassis remains unchanged, but the air-cooled V-twin has grown to 1078cc (up from 992cc of the Multistrada 1000), and power is up from 92bhp to 95bhp.

Since other models in the Ducati lineup, including the Monster, also used the earlier 992cc engine, they should also be getting the 1078cc engine sometime soon. The company anyway seems to be on a new model spree, with the new Monster S4R Testastretta having been announced very recently, and rumours of a new 1200cc V-twin superbike still doing the rounds.

In an unrelated bit of news, Ducati also plan to build 150 road-going replicas of the Parts Unlimited Ducati Team AMA Superbikes. If Neil Hodgson's AMA Superbike is what you always wanted, the replica should be just the thing for you, but note that these bikes will only be sold in the US. These bikes are pegged at US$19,999 so you also need to be rich to buy one of these, but not as rich as you’d need to be to buy a Desmosedici RR

Update (22.12.2006): Ducati are now also working on updating the Multistrada's styling to try and make it more appealing to a wider range of motorcycle owners and riders.

The Parts Unlimited Team Ducati AMA superbike replica can now be yours for US$20,000
Here's a very interesting Ducati promo video!

Also see:
Ducati 999-powered Fiat 500
2007 Ducati Hypermotard
Special Moto Corse Ducati 999
2007 BMW HP2 Megamoto
2007 Ducati Sport Classic range

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Suzuki Katana: Taming of the Sword

The 1982 Suzuki Katana GSX1000S. Awesome!

Back in the early-1980s, Suzuki went to a German design house – Target Design – and asked them to help out with the styling of their new sportsbike. And thus, the mighty Katana (means sword in Japanese) was born. The Target Design team that did the original Katana consisted of three men – Hans Muth, Jan Fellstrom and Hans-Georg Kasten – of whom Hans Muth is still actively working with the motorcycle industry. He has, supposedly, also worked on the styling of some of the recent motorcycles from BMW.

Coming back to the Katana, the bike’s styling was a radical departure from anything else available at the time. With its aggressive stance, butch, naked styling, a brutal 1100cc engine, and the very stylish mini-fairing, the Katana was a stand-out bike all right. Target Design had actually designed a very similar prototype machine for MV Agusta, in the late-1970s, but that never went into production, and Suzuki probably got to benefit from that!

When it came out in 1980 at the Cologne Motor Show in Germany, the Suzuki GSX1100 Katana was criticized for being too radical. “It’ll never work!” cried purists. “We all want one!” said punters everywhere. And within the next 2 – 3 years, other manufacturers were trying to copy the Katana. Through the 1980s and till 1991, Suzuki made 1000cc, 750cc and 250cc versions of the Katana, which still had all the charm, all the allure of the 1100cc version. They also made a bunch of 650cc and 550cc versions in the early-80s, which were complete and utter rubbish – a disgrace to the Katana name. In any case, from the mid-90s onwards, Suzuki completely ruined the Katana by slapping the name on to slow, heavy and dated sport-tourers and even a bunch of Katana-branded scooters. The fiery, cutting-edge sportsbike that was the original Katana was lost forever.

Is there any hope of the Katana ever being resurrected? Well, at last year’s Tokyo Motorcycle Show, Suzuki showed Stratosphere concept bike, which incorporated some design elements from the original ED2 Katana, and was fitted with a six-cylinder engine! We doubt if the Stratosphere will ever make it to production, though if various rumours are to be believed, that six-cylinder engine just might make its way to the 2008 Hayabusa.

Read some old road tests of the Katana here

A Yoshimura-tuned and fettled GSX1100S Katana

Friday, September 08, 2006

Honda VTR1000 RC51 SP2: The un-Fireblade

Exotica: The 136bhp SP-2 is a proper racer for the road
Honda VTR1000 SP2 RC51 Honda VTR1000 SP2 RC51 Honda VTR1000 SP2 RC51

Sure, the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade is a hugely powerful, mega-fast superbike – but these days, it’s getting a bit common, isn’t it? The words exotic and Honda don’t really go along, but if you really want an exotic Honda, then it has to be the RC51 VTR1000 SP-2. No, it isn’t as powerful as the four-cylinder, 1000cc Fireblade, but the race-bred SP-2’s 999cc, 8-valve V-twin still kicks out 136 horsepower, which should be enough for most people in most situations...

The RC51 SP-1 made its debut in the year 2000, and with Colin Edwards riding the factory racebike, it picked up the WSB championship in its very first year of competition. With HRC developments lavished on the SP-1, the SP-2 again won the WSB crown in 2002 with Colin. That, however, was where it ended for the RC51 SP-2, with WSB regulations moving on to permit four-cylinder 1000cc machines from 2003 onwards.

Though they don’t race it anymore, Honda have kept the RC51 SP-2 in their lineup and its still an absolutely brilliant motorcycle for those who are looking at a proper, HRC-bred racebike for the road.
Read a comparison test between the Honda RC51 and the Ducati 999R here and read about the very memorable V4-engined Honda RC30 and the RC45 bikes here

2007 Honda CBR600RR breaks cover!

Sharper, lighter, faster - the 2007 CBR600RR

Honda have unveiled the 2007 CBR600RR, and yes, it’s lighter and faster than ever. Thanks to reduced-weight components, the CBR600’s engine is now lighter and can rev all the way to 15,700rpm. It’s been revised to shorten the crankcase by about 30mm, which results in a more compact unit. The compression ratio has been bumped up to 12.2:1 and forged aluminum pistons are now shot-peened for greater durability. There’s a new knock sensor that maintains optimal spark advance and compensates for lower-octane fuel.

Honda claim 118bhp@13,500rpm for the new CBR600RR, which should put it in contention for the ‘top dog’ title in the forthcoming 2007 600s track scrap. Honda have also incorporated a new intake air control valve (IACV) in the airbox, which is said to smoothen throttle response. And while we’re not sure if the new CBR has a proper slipper clutch, there’s a new ‘no-lash’ transmission that helps reduce driveline lash between accelerating and slowing down repeatedly, at lower speeds.

In the chassis department, the wheelbase is shorter than last year’s model by about 22mm, though the swingarm is 5mm longer. The new chassis also uses just four die-cast sections instead of the 11 sections for the last year’s model. The bike is now fitted with an updated version of the CBR1000RR's electronic steering damper, to make sure it stays stable at higher speeds. Suspension and brakes remain unchanged (41mm USD fork at front, Unit Pro-Link at the back), but given Honda’s focus on weight reduction, the new bike is lighter than the ’06 CBR600RR by eight kilos.

Now that Honda have fired the first salvo, and Kawasaki have shown the 2007 ZX-6R Ninja, let's see what Suzuki and Yamaha do with their 600s…!

Styling is not hugely different from the 2006 model, but the white/blue graphics on the '07 model are a bit dubious...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

London Land Speed Record on a ZZR1400

The ZZR1400's fast, no doubt

How fast would you ride in London city? 100km/h? 150km/h? Well, the boys at TWO magazine recently took a Kawasaki ZZR1400 and hit 293.44km/h at the London City Airport. And no, they did not run into any Lear Jets because the airport was officially closed for the first London Land Speed record attempt! TWO’s sister publication, Autocar was also present, but the fastest that any of their assembled supercars could do was a mere 280km/h. Cars vs bikes, eh? Guess that one’s settled then.

A Japanese road test video of the Kawasaki ZZR1400. Simply amazing!

Go here to see just how hard a ZZR1400 accelerates!

See this awesome video of Tiff Needell (Fifth Gear) testing a Kawasaki ZZR1200-powered trike!

Chris Carr does 560km/h at Bonneville

That's Chris Carr, with the BUB streamliner that did 560km/h!

Barely two days ago, we had reported that Rocky Robinson has set a new motorcycle land speed world record on his Team Top-1 ACK Attack streamliner, riding the machine at 547km/h at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Well, the record didn’t last long. Chris Carr (who’s also a seven-time AMA Flat Track champion), riding his BUB streamliner, did 560km/h at Bonneville, and is now officially the ‘fastest human on two-wheels.’ Pity Valentino & Co.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sin City: Volkswagen GX3

You've got to LOVE this trike!!!

What has three wheels, two seats, goes from zero to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds and has a top speed of 200km/h? The scintillating, 125bhp, Volkswagen GX3. First shown in January this year, the GX3 was designed by Volkswagen’s Design Centre in California, and is a fully functional concept.

The GX3 is powered by a VW 1600cc engine, which gives it a power/weight ratio of 1:4.56. The vehicle is also capable of achieving lateral acceleration of up to 1.25g, which is what some very expensive, high-performance cars do, but the GX3 was only supposed to cost about US $17,000. That was before VW dropped plans of building this vehicle because they thought it might be too dangerous, and result in too many liability claims, which the company definitely does not want. Too bad VW chickened out of producing this vehicle, which they claimed is “Inspired by the minimalist design language often expressed in contemporary GP motorcycles and F1 race cars…”

If you like high-performance three-wheelers, see this and if you like weird three-wheelers, see this

Forget the GTI - this is the best thing VW (n)ever made!

Beastly: 2007 Ducati Monster S4R Testastretta

That L-twin packs 130bhp, so watch out!

The Monster is getting more powerful as it grows older. The 2007 Monster S4R Testastretta gets Ducati’s 130 horsepower, 4-valve-per-cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid cooled, 998cc Testastretta L-twin engine (whew!), which was earlier available only with the S4Rs Testastretta. Twin mufflers, tubular trellis chassis, single-sided swingarm, and the mini fairing continue as before, but two new paint schemes – titanium and red – will be offered.

The suspension also gets an upgrade, with the 43mm Showa USD front forks and Sachs rear shock absorber now being fully adjustable. Ride height at the back, which can be an important factor for changing a bike’s handling characteristics, is also adjustable on the 2007 Ducati Monster S4R Testastretta. The new bike will be available by early October this year.

A Ducati Monster tribute video



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