Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In an interview with Motociclismo, Claudio Castiglioni (President - MV Agusta) has said that he believes the speed limits on Italy’s roads should be increased to 180km/h, since modern sportsbikes are perfectly capable of travelling at that speed in perfect safety.
The Italian government is already said to be studying the possibility of increasing the speed limits on Italy’s highways (the current speed limit is 150km/h), and Castiglioni says he wholeheartedly supports the idea. However, he adds that speed limits in towns and surrounding areas should be strictly enforced, and higher speeds should only be permitted on the highways.
‘On our highway network, there are some areas with very little traffic, where going at 170-180km/h would absolutely not be a problem,’ says Castiglioni, adding that higher speed limits may actually help, since those would allow riders to focus on their riding, rather than thinking about losing points on their license and having to pay hefty fines.
With a bike like the F4 CC to his name, we suppose Mr Castiglioni would support higher speed limits. But we’d like to know what’s your take on this – please use the comments form to tell us about your views on the subject!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Mark Cernicky of Cycle World had an opportunity to test ride 2009 World Superbikes champ Ben Spies’ Yamaha R1 racebike, at the Autodromo do Algarve circuit in Portimão, Portugal. Here are some excerpts from what he has to say about the championship winning bike:
Standing in Spies' pit, I couldn't take my eyes off his blue, black and white R1. The Italian-milk-backed bike is beautiful, with carbon-fiber bodywork, Brembo Monobloc brakes and Öhlins suspension among its alluring attributes.
As I chugged down pit lane, the engine sounded like it was broken, with a lot of rattling near my ankles. Turns out, it was just exhaust back pressure reverberating through the large mid-pipe routed right behind the rearsets. I changed gears and rolled open the throttle to begin my first lap around the 2.9-mile, 15-turn circuit. Escalating engine revs were accompanied by a marvellous sound from the Akrapovic muffler.
Magneti Marelli electronics, common to many front-running Superbikes, allow wide-open shift action that, in this particular case, was remarkably positive. Corner exits were never slowed by electronic interruptions that might upset the chassis. Maybe my 30-plus laps around the circuit helped me to push my limits on this bike but the edge of control was more recognizable than on, say, Ruben Xaus' factory BMW S1000RR.
From my perspective, Spies' R1 wasn't the fastest machine down Algarve's long front straightaway, but its crossplane-crankshaft engine had more torque than I ever imagined could be derived from an inline-four. Compared with the Yamaha of Noriyuki Haga that I rode last year in Portugal, Spies' R1 felt less front-end biased. With more weight focused over the rear of the bike, Spies' bike felt light and lively up front. That, combined with light steering-damper resistance, allowed the Yamaha to shake its head under hard acceleration, reminding me to keep a loose grip on the bars and plenty of weight over the front tire. Feedback while braking was amazing and I could make aggressive steering inputs with pinpoint accuracy…
For the full story and video, please visit Cycle World
Ben Spies on how to ride like Ben Spies...
Mat Mladin says Ben Spies is the best motorcycle racer right now. Yes, as good as Rossi...
Mat Mladin says Ben Spies is the best motorcycle racer right now. Yes, as good as Rossi...
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The Motorcycle Design Association (set up in 2001 by Glynn Kerr and Francois-Marie Dumas) has announced the winner of its 2009 Motorcycle Design Trophy, which goes to the three Moto Guzzi concept bikes that were unveiled at this year’s EICMA Show in Italy.
The three Moto Guzzi bikes – the V12 Le Mans, V12 Strada and V12 X – were penned by a team of designers headed by the redoubtable Pierre Terblanche. The other bikes that were ‘highly recommended’ by members of the MDA include the BMW S1000RR and Concept 6, Aprilia RSV4 and KTM 125 concepts.
More details on the MDA and their awards here
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Fitted with a single-cylinder 690cc engine that pumps out 70 horsepower, the 690 Duke R isn’t exactly the most glamorous motorcycle in the KTM line-up, but it could well be one of the most fun-to-ride bikes anywhere. With its light weight (148kg dry), high-spec suspension and slick six-speed gearbox, the little KTM is lean, lithe and sporty. Motociclismo recently had the opportunity to test the bike and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the baby KTM:
The first KTM Duke 620 was launched back in 1994, primarily to meet the demand for such a bike in France, where some riders had already started to convert their motocross bikes into supermotards. The first Duke was one of the best performing bikes in its class, something which still holds true today for the latest 690 Duke.
With the 1999 Duke II, the 2008 690 Duke and the 2010 690 Duke R, the bike has become increasingly capable on the street and the newest model also looks strikingly beautiful. KTM uses a somewhat similar recipe with all its ‘R’ models – a slight increase in engine performance, uprated brake and suspension components and, of course, that black-white-and-orange paintjob.
On the twisty Alpine roads on the outskirts of Nice, in France, the 690 Duke R immediately feels very light and easy to ride. And it’s not just very agile – it’s also very stable. With its stiff steel tube trellis frame, cast aluminium swingarm and uprated front fork, the Duke R stays quite planted even at its top speed of around 200km/h.
On bumpy roads with small patches of snow and ice, the Duke R doesn’t lose its composure even at higher speeds. The brakes, too, work very well – the single 320mm disc with Brembo radial-mount four-piston callipers at the front, and 240mm rear disc offer so much stopping power that you actually need some time to get used to these brakes.
The bike is comfortable to ride and the wide handlebars give you a lot of space to move around. If it weren’t for the lack of wind protection, you could actually use this bike for long distance trips.
For the Duke R, KTM have increased the displacement of their single-cylinder engine from 654cc to 690cc and power output has gone up from 65bhp to 70bhp. And yes, you can feel the difference – the new bike feels more responsive than the basic 690 Duke. There’s still not much power up to 2,000rpm but things are perfect once you cross that figure. The engine feels stronger and more rev-happy than you’d expect a single-cylinder engine to be, and it doesn’t vibrate much either. Honestly, you just can’t ask more of a machine with a 690cc single-cylinder engine!
The 690 Duke R costs 8,890 euros (a mere 300 euros more than the standard 690 Duke) and will be available in March 2010.
2010 KTM 690 Duke R: Tech Specs
Engine: Fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 690cc
Suspension: 48mm USD fork, monoshock, both three-way adjustable
Brakes: Single 320mm disc with four-piston radial-mount callipers (front), 240mm rear disc
Tyres: 120/70-17 (front), 160/60-17 (rear)
Fuel tank: 13.5L
Dry weight: 148kg
A video of the KTM 690 Duke R. Yes, the bike looks good...
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Though it's 5kg heavier than the Factory, the Aprilia RSV4 R still has the same 180bhp V4 engine and ride-by-wire electronics. How bad can it be...
For those who can live with Showa/Sachs (instead of Ohlins) suspension, aluminium (instead of magnesium) components, plastic (instead of carbonfibre) parts in the bodywork, and a non-adjustable chassis (instead of one that allows you to change the swingarm’s pivot point, steering head angle and even the engine position…), the Aprilia RSV4 R is probably a brilliant deal. You still get the same sharp styling, the same 180bhp V4 engine, and the same ride-by-wire electronics as the higher-spec RSV4 Factory, but at a price that’s about 25% lower.
MotorBox recently had the opportunity to test ride the RSV4 R at the Estoril circuit, in Portugal, and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the bike:
Aprilia aim to sell around 2,000 units of the RSV4 in Europe in 2010, so launching a ‘cheaper’ version of the RSV4 Factory was probably a must, in order to achieve those sales figures. And for Aprilia fans who want a bike that can work on the track as well as on the street, the RSV4 R is just great, because it still retains most of the best bits of the Factory version.
The R version’s 65-degree V4 remains unchanged and still produces the full 180bhp at 12,500rpm – the same as the RSV4 Factory. Dual injectors per cylinder, 48mm throttle bodies, ride-by-wire electronics, and tri-mode mapping – it’s all there. And while the chassis doesn’t permit you to change the engine’s position or alter the swingarm pivot, it’s still beautifully finished, and the 43mm Showa fork and Sachs shock are fully adjustable.
At 184kg dry, the RSV4 R is 5kg heavier than the Factory, but that makes little difference to the bike’s performance. With Aprilia’s own test riders on board, the RSV4 R laps the Mugello circuit within a few 10ths of a second of the Factory’s lap times. The R’s very ‘front-endy’ riding position is also similar to the Factory’s, though in real-world riding the Factory feels a bit more ‘edgy’ and aggressive, responding to the rider’s inputs with a tad more urgency.
A lot of people may actually like the RSV4 R more than the Factory, since the former is more street-friendly, while the latter is definitely a bit more track-oriented. The two bikes have their own unique personalities – the R is a bit more stable under hard braking while the Factory accelerates out of corners harder.
In the end, the Factory is a ferret and in terms of handling, remains the absolute benchmark in its segment. The RSV4 Factory is small, slim and compact, changes direction very quickly and often feels like a 600 in the way it handles. The R model makes you work a bit harder to go as fast, but ultimately the R is also a bit easier to control than the rather more explosive Factory.
The BMW S1000RR might be bit more powerful, but the Aprilia’s V4 sounds fantastic and goes very, very hard. It also delivers its power across a wide rev range, though the Factory’s engine is happy revving all the way up to 14,000rpm while the R’s engine stops a few hundred revs before that.
Coming to the two bikes’ ride-by-wire electronics, the R’s electronics seem to work a bit better than the Factory’s, which is understandable since Aprilia have had a few months to fine-tune and optimise the system. The R’s V4 is blessed with perfect fuel-injection and even its gearbox feels just a bit smoother than the Factory’s. The only thing we’d like changed is low-rpm response in ‘Track’ mode, which is currently a bit too aggressive. Milder response in the first quarter opening of the throttle would probably work better.
Finally, the RSV4 R’s strength lies in the disarming simplicity with which it allows you to go so fast. That V4 makes a scary amount of power, but Aprilia have managed to engineer a package that lets you actually use all that power rather. The RSV4 R is bike that’s perfectly balanced – focused on performance and yet easy to ride – and as a package, it works very well indeed. This was Japanese litre-bike territory at one time, but Aprilia engineers have produced a bike that’s ready to take on the world’s best!
Here are some pics of the Aprilia RSV4, which you'll probably like very much... ;-)
And here, from Gizmag, is a very comprehensive road test video of the Aprilia RSV4 R
More RSV4 R action...
For the original article, please visit the MotorBox website here
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Cedric Lynch: “They won't equal petrol-engined bikes unless somebody comes up with better batteries…”
Team Agni's engineer, Cedric Lynch believes battery-powered bikes have a long way to go before they can offer performance that's similar to IC-engined machines...
An Indo-British outfit, Agni Motors won the inaugural TTXGP at the Isle of Man this year. Road RacerX recently caught up Agni’s chief engineer, Cedric Lynch, who believes it will be hard for electric bikes to equal the performance of conventional racebikes, because of the inherent limitations with currently available batteries. Here are some excerpts from what Cedric had to say:
On how long he thinks it will take for electric bikes to start offering performance that’s similar to conventional, IC-engined bikes
I don’t think that they will equal petrol-engined motorcycles unless somebody comes up with better batteries, or unless they allow the electric bikes more streamlining than the petrol-powered bikes are allowed, because the energy content of even the best batteries. The best ones you can buy store at an energy density of about 200 watt-hours per kilogram, but the best that can give it out at a high rate – like 120 minutes – are more like 130-or-so watt-hours per kilogram. And that is a tiny fraction of the amount of energy which is stored with a petrol engine.
On whether he thinks better, more efficient batteries will soon be available
They’ll never reach a level comparable with petrol, because the battery’s storing in it all the materials that will take part in the chemical reaction, and the material will remain in the battery after the reaction is finished. So it’s a bit like the equivalent of storing both the petrol and the oxygen, and then capturing all of the exhaust gases and carrying them on the vehicle. If you were to do that with a petrol engine, you wouldn’t have such a big weight advantage.
Although there is a type of battery that uses air as one of the reaction components – the zinc air battery, for example – but I think it is not capable of very high discharge rates at the moment. I think there is an Israeli company that is developing those for highway vehicles, but I think it’s not capable of very high discharge rates, suitable for racing, although it will give several hundred miles on the road. But it does have the serious practical drawback that you can’t recharge it yourself, from your own electricity supply.
See the full interview on Road RacerX, but from what Cedric says, it does seem it’ll be a long, long time before Rossi & Co. will be riding electric bikes…
MotoGP, which moved from two-stroke 500cc engines to 990cc four-strokes in 2002, and then from 990cc to 800cc engines in 2007, is all set for another change. From 2012, MotoGP will go back to 1,000cc four-stroke engines with a maximum of four cylinders.
‘The main changes we have decided on are new rules for the MotoGP class. We will have four-stroke four-cylinder engines. This will give all the manufacturers the opportunity to start work. At the beginning of next year we will produce the new rules in a more complete format, but that is the basis; 2012 will be the year of a new era of MotoGP,’ says FIM President Vito Ippolito.
‘From 2012, the bikes will have an engine capacity of up to 1,000cc, have up to four cylinders and the maximum bore will be 81mm. It’s a very important measurement because with this we can have all the characteristics of the engine. This has been approved and between now and the start of the 2010 season we will have another two meetings to define the rest of the specifications for the MotoGP class,’ says Dorna Sports CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta.
All we can do is hope FIM/Dorna will not impose too many restrictions on the engines, chassis and suspension etc. used in MotoGP. This is the ‘prototype’ class, remember? Don’t stifle the racing, don’t suffocate the racers. Please, just let this class be where the world’s hardest, best racers race on the world’s best, most advanced, most powerful and the fastest motorcycles on the planet…
Friday, December 11, 2009
Superbike Planet recently caught up with Valentino Rossi’s very charismatic father, Graziano Rossi, for an interview. Here are some excerpts from Rossi Sr. had to say:
On whether he still visits most MotoGP races
I don't like flying, so I don't often visit the races outside of Europe. But I try to be at all of the European races. I normally drive to the venue. Otherwise, I think Valentino does his job perfectly, even if I am not right beside him all the time…
On whether he hates Valentino’s rivals
No, I have never hated anyone. But it is different every now and then; I tend to dislike those who represent the highest risk to Valentino in the race. Right now for example, I could name Jorge Lorenzo, or even Casey Stoner. Of course, Dani Pedrosa is also very fast. I always viewed him with respect.
On his own racing career
I started off relatively well in 1979, but my three victories [in the 250cc class] cannot be compared to Valentino's long list of over 100 victories. If I had to describe my career, perhaps the most appropriate words would be ‘short’ and ‘unfortunate.’
[Graziano started racing in 1979, in the 250cc class, winning three races that year. He moved to 500s in 1980, though his season was hampered by serious injuries sustained in a major accident on the road. He finally stopped racing in 1982, after a serious accident while racing at the Imola 200.]
On whether he continues to advice Valentino
If I remember right, the last time I tried to advise him on something was when he was six years old. Valentino is a very strong character. When we first started to play with go-karts and mini motorbikes, a couple of times I tried to advise him, but soon I realized it was pointless, because he didn't need my advice. Valentino doesn't like it if someone tries to teach him something, he would rather work it out on his own.
On his relationship with Valentino
I am very close to my son, but it would be impossible to create a classic father-son relationship with him. Because a father would always want to give advice to his son, and as I mentioned it earlier, in Valentino's case it's out of the question. Our relationship is therefore quite different, maybe more intimate. The parent can do only one thing, which is also the most important one – he can give his son the opportunity to get to know different things, people and life situations, so after that he can decide for himself which one of these will be his ideal. The parent can do no more than that.
On what he thinks Valentino has, which other racers lack
For example, let's say you are running well, and the people around you say, ‘you are good, you are the best.’ If you believe this, you will become bigheaded, and you forget where you came from. The most important thing is to stay truthful to who you really are, and be down to earth. As soon as you believe you are the best, you are not the best any more. From that stage there is no progress. Valentino never believed he was the best, not even now. He works really hard, and at every race he is able to learn new things, and progress.
A good rider will learn until the point when he decides to give up racing. Valentino remained his same old self, just as he was when he first started, and he is still humble in his approach to racing in general.
On why he finally cut his legendary long hair
I bet with Valentino that if he got his first world champion in the 500cc class, I will have my hair cut. He really wanted it and luckily he won it, so I submitted myself to a haircut. But now, I actually like short hair…
For the full interview, please visit Superbike Planet
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- Claudio Castiglioni: “Why stop at 150km/h?!”
- Ben Spies' Yamaha R1 riding impression
- Moto Guzzi V12 concept bikes win 2009 MDA Trophy
- BMW S1000RR takes on Japanese litre-class superbik...
- KTM 690 Duke R riding impression
- Aprilia RSV4 R riding impression
- Cedric Lynch: “They won't equal petrol-engined bik...
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