Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Performance Bikes: Honda RVF750R RC45 vs Aprilia RSV4

“Honda “Honda “Honda “Honda
It's a battle of the ages as the Honda RC45 goes head to head against the Aprilia RSV4. It's 1990s Japanese racebike engineering against modern-day Italian exotica...

We have to admit, we have a freakish obsession with 1980s/1990s Honda V4s – we think the VFR750R RC30 and RVF750R RC45 are simply two of the coolest bikes ever made on the planet. And if ever had to choose between the two, it would have to be the RC45.

Launched in 1994, the RC45 wasn’t massively powerful – in stock form, its 750cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected DOHC V4 only produced about 118bhp. But it’s the bike’s sheer raciness, its single-minded performance intent, the resolutely purposeful 1990s styling that has us lusting after the Honda even now, almost two decades after it was launched.

Despite having a great heritage of high-performance V4-engined sportsbikes, Honda don’t seem to be interested in building a successor to the RC45. The current V4s in the Honda line-up – the VFR1200F and the Crossdresser Crossrunner – may be undeniably refined, capable and competent etc., but they are just so… dull!

The best modern-day V4-engined superbike is, of course, the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC. It is, perhaps, the bike that Honda could have, should have, built. But they did not. And Aprilia seem to have taken up things from where Honda left off when they stopped producing the RC45 in 1999. The RSV4 is fabulous bike – in terms of styling, handling and engine performance, it’s second to none. So you have to wonder, how would an RSV4 stack up against an RC45? The UK-based Performance Bikes magazine did a story some time ago, where they compared a race-kitted RC45 with a new RSV4. The bikes were ridden by PB’s Matt Wildee and Kar Lee, and here are some excerpts from what they had to say about the match-up:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorable: The 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition

1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition
The 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition, 1980s Japanese sportsbike exotica at its best. The bike weighed 176kg dry, had about 99bhp and cost $6,500 back then...!
1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition

When the Suzuki GSX-R750 was launched in 1985, it was the lightest, quickest, most advanced sportsbike available to the public. ‘This pure supersports model was our first 750cc bike featuring an aluminum frame of unprecedented light weight and superb torsional rigidity. We had no real competitors in the market, other than factory racing machines,’ says Hiroshi Fujiwara, the Japanese engineer who headed the development of the first GSX-R back in the 1980s.

With 99 horsepower from its carbureted, oil-cooled, inline-four and with a dry weight of about 179 kilos, the mid-1980s GSX-R750 offered performance that was unrivalled in its time. ‘We knew that reaching our goal of the world's best power-to-weight ratio – required to realize overpowering performance – would be an enormous challenge,’ says Isamu Okamoto, the man responsible for designing the first GSX-R750’s engine.

And yet, Suzuki not only took on that challenge with the 1985 GSX-R750 but also upped the ante in 1986 with the GSX-R750 Limited Edition. At US$6,500 the LE cost $2,000 more than the standard GSX-R750 and was the most expensive Japanese sportsbike of its time. It featured bits like a gold-plated chain, high-performance radial tyres, single seat, tail section made of hand-laid fiberglass, dry clutch, 41mm ‘NEAS’ front forks (with an electrically activated anti-dive mechanism), three-point steering damper and twin 310mm brake discs up front. And at 176kg dry, the LE was also 3kg lighter than the standard GSX-R750. These things may not sound special today, but added up to a pretty trick sportsbike back in 1986.

2012 Brammo Empulse R launched, priced at $18,995

2012 Brammo Empulse R 2012 Brammo Empulse R 2012 Brammo Empulse R 2012 Brammo Empulse R

Brammo recently revealed pricing and production plans for the Empulse R, which they claim is the world’s fastest electric motorcycle in production. With a range of 160km on one full charge and a top speed of 160km/h, the battery-powered Empulse R certainly seems interesting, though at US$18,995 it’s certainly not cheap. The base model Empulse, at US$16,995 is a bit cheaper, though it will only be available in 2013.

The Brammo Empulse R has plastic bodywork, tubular steel chassis, fully adjustable suspension (43mm Marzocchi fork, Sachs monoshock), Brembo brakes, some carbonfibre bits (headlight shroud, front and rear fenders and the rear light housing) and is powered by a 40kW (54bhp) electric motor that produces 63Nm of torque. Chain final drive is used and power is transmitted to the rear wheel via a 6-speed gearbox. The bike rolls on 17-inch Marchesini alloy wheels, shod with 120/70 (front) and 180/55 (rear) Avon tyres.

The Empulse R’s electric motor is fed by a lithium-ion battery pack that has a maximum capacity of 10.2kWh. Charging time is 8 hours and the batteries are good for 1,500 charging cycles. Depending on the type of usage, range on a full charge can vary between 90-195km.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nicky Hayden: “It’s hard for me to be a good boy!”

Nicky Hayden
2006 MotoGP world champ, Nicky Hayden is one of the last few old school racers who're still racing in MotoGP. We hope he wins a few more races before he retires...
Nicky Hayden Nicky Hayden Nicky Hayden

To mark their 40th anniversary, Dainese will produce four digital magazines this year, one each of which will look at the people, events and products from the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 00s that have helped create the Dainese legend. In the first issue (which you can download from here), they have, among other things, carried an interesting interview with 2006 MotoGP world champion, Nicky Hayden. Here are some excerpts from what Nicky says:

On whether experience helps in MotoGP

Experience is a big help. As the years go on, you pick up little tricks here and there that help you on race day. They don’t necessarily help you to do one good lap but you so realise what helps you go the distance.

On the races he enjoys most

I enjoy racing all the tracks but of course I like racing the American rounds. Those are really special; Laguna Seca for the track and Indy is my home race. I also like the Italian races as they are home races for Ducati. Mugello is a great track and Misano has awesome atmosphere.

Shootout: 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale S vs Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC vs BMW S1000RR

The Motorcycle.com team pitches the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale S against the Aprilia RSV4 R Factory APRC and the BMW S1000RR. Also read their full review here

And here's Motorcyclist magazine's take on the RSV4 vs S1000RR vs Panigale shootout, with the 2012 MV Agusta F4R also thrown into the mix. Enjoy!
Hit the jump for high-res photographs of the Panigale, RSV4 and S1000RR

Saturday, May 19, 2012

George Clooney, motorcyclist

George Clooney
George Clooney says his favourite bike is the Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail...
George Clooney George Clooney George Clooney

‘I’ve been riding motorcycles for years but it took a long time before I could afford a Harley of my own. The Heritage is my favourite model – the purr it offers is second to none. Aside from taking to the water on a boat, it has to be my preferred way to spend my time, when I get any. I love the thrill of going for a ride and exploring. I recently had a trip around Ireland and even though some of their roads wouldn’t be in the best shape, it was a pretty magical experience as I’ve a lot of Irish in me,’ says George Clooney, one of our favourite Hollywood stars, who also happens to love motorcycles.

Clooney has had his share of biking spills but he hasn’t let that affect his passion for riding. One of his more serious get-offs happened a few years, when he bike collided with a car – Clooney suffered a fractured rib and his then girlfriend Sarah Larsson ended up with a broken foot. ‘That was quite scary, I’ll admit. It was a very out of control experience and could have ended a lot worse but thankfully we were okay,’ says Clooney.

So would the possibility of another crash ever stop Clooney from riding bikes? ‘No, you’re always going to have a few spills. It could happen in a car, it could happen on a bicycle, it could happen as a pedestrian. You can’t live like that,’ he says.

George Clooney was interviewed by Inspire magazine, for their May 2012 issue

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Casey Stoner to retire from MotoGP at the end of the 2012 season!

Casey Stoner announces retirement from MotoGP
Reining MotoGP world champion, the 27 year old Casey Stoner will retire from MotoGP at the end of the 2012 season. Another significant loss for the MotoGP fraternity...

In a shocking development, reigning MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner has announced that he will retire from MotoGP at the end of the 2012 season. Casey announced his retirement while speaking to the media at the official pre-event press conference for the French MotoGP.

‘This has been coming for a couple of years now. After a long time thinking, a lot of time talking with my family and my wife [I have decided that] I will be not racing in the 2013 MotoGP championship. I will be finishing my MotoGP career at the end of this season and go forward in different things in my life,’ said Casey.

‘After so many years of doing this sport which I love, and which myself and my family made so many sacrifices for, after so many years of trying to get to where we have gotten to at this point, this sport has changed a lot and it has changed to the point where I am not enjoying it. I don't have the passion for it and so at this time it's better if I retire now,’ said the man who won the 2007 and 2011 MotoGP world championships and who’s currently leading the 2012 MotoGP world championship as well.

‘There are a lot of things that have disappointed me, and also a lot of things I have loved about this sport, but unfortunately the balance has gone in the wrong direction. And so, basically, we won't be continuing any more. It would be nice if I could say I would stay one more year, but then where does it stop? So we decided to finish everything as we are now,’ says Casey.

We must admit this comes as a complete shock to us. Casey Stoner is fast, consistent and talented and his departure from MotoGP will be a significant loss to the sport. We wish Casey all the very best in life, in whatever he chooses to do after ending his career in MotoGP.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In Conversation with Casey Stoner

Casey Stoner Casey Stoner Casey Stoner
Reigning MotoGP world champion, Casey Stoner is probably the fastest man in the world on two wheels right now. And he doesn't mince words...

At 27 years of age, Casey Stoner already has two MotoGP world championships (2007 and 2011) to his name and there is a very good chance that he’ll win the 2012 MotoGP world championship as well. Recently, Man’s World magazine had an opportunity to put a few questions to the reigning MotoGP world champion, which he answered with remarkable candour. Here are a few excerpts from what Casey had to say…

On frequent changes in MotoGP technical regulations, pertaining to engine size

“I strongly believe that the management in this sport should define a clear set of rules and then stick to them for a guaranteed period of time. The constant changing of the rules is deterring manufacturers and privateer teams from entering. If you keep the rules stable for a few years then other teams looking to join the Championship know the benchmark and can join with confidence that the rules will not change and that they could become competitive. If they join without this assurance, then it is a huge gamble, as if rules change and they must adapt then they simply may not have the budget which means they exit from the sport.”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Conversation with Erik Buell

Erik Buell
Erik Buell Erik Buell Erik Buell Erik Buell
From the mid-1980s RR1000 BattleTwin to the current EBR 1190RS, it's been a long and significantly interesting journey for Erik Buell and his motorcycles...

Talk about innovation and engineering brilliance in motorcycling and the one name that immediately comes to mind is that of Erik Buell. Erik has been building some pretty exciting motorcycles for about 30 years now, having started with the RW750 Road Warrior and RR1000 BattleTwin in the early-1980s, to the current EBR 1190RS.

It’s been a long journey for Buell motorcycles and as it must be with such journeys, there have been highs and lows. But the man behind the bikes – Erik Buell – remains committed to his motorcycles and continues to innovate, engineer and build some of the finest motorcycles in America. All right, for now, just one of the finest motorcycles in the US – the absolutely amazing 1190RS – but we’re sure there’s more to come.

We’ve been big fans of Erik Buell and his bikes for the last 10 years. And now, finally, we’ve managed to ask him a few questions about his bikes and about himself. Here is what Erik had to say:

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Naked Brawlers: 2012 Ducati Streetfighter S vs Aprilia Tuono V4R

On this episode of On Two Wheels, Motorcyclist magazine's Ari Henning and guest test rider Zack Courts saddle up in a bid to find out which among the 2012 Aprilia Tuono V4R and Ducati Streetfighter S is the baddest super naked on the planet...

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Simon Crafar: The Limit is Yours

In this video, Simon Crafar, who's raced in World Superbikes and MotoGP, says that motorcycling shouldn't be electronics. Rather, the limit should be yours, he says. Umm... we agree that that's how it should probably be on the track. But on the street, we think it's all right for riders to have whatever electronic aids that are available. If things like ABS and traction control can help boost safety and make you go a bit faster, hey, why the hell not?!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The five technologies that are making motorcycling safer for everyone

The human body was probably never designed to travel at triple-digit speeds, balanced precariously as it were on two wheels in the case of motorcycle travel. Motorcycling is an activity that’s inherently fraught with some amount of risk, but ongoing advances in technology are making it safer for bikers to go out and ride.

Sure, technology will never be a substitute for a large dollop of common sense, a high degree of alertness and rider training, but with those elements in place, there are some technologies that are now taking motorcycle safety to a higher level. Here, we take a look at what these technologies are and what they mean for motorcyclists.

motorcycle ABS motorcycle ABS
On the street, ABS can save motorcyclists' lives, period

Anti-lock Brakes

Various studies conducted in recent years in Europe and the US conclude that with anti-lock brakes (ABS) being fitted to motorcycles can lead to a very significant reduction in fatal motorcycle accidents. Admittedly, the percentage of possible reduction of such crashes varies from one study to the other – various studies peg that number from anywhere between 12% to as much as 48%. But even if we choose to believe only the lower numbers, ABS would still be a very worthwhile addition to all motorcycles.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

2012 Piaggio X10 range is all set to go touring

Piaggio X10
The Piaggio X10 range of scooters is available in 500, 350 and 125 versions
Piaggio X10 Piaggio X10 Piaggio X10

Piaggio have released pics and specs of the 2012-model X10 range of scooters, which are now available with 125cc, 350cc and 500cc engines. Part of Piaggio’s ‘Gran Turismo’ scooter range, the X10 series features bits like electrically-adjustable rear suspension, anti-lock brakes, backlit controls, an onboard trip computer with large LCD display, a USB port, LED daytime running lights and a very spacious luggage compartment that can take two helmets.

The Piaggio X10’s ergonomics have been optimized for long-distance travel, its large windscreen provides a significant amount of wind protection and its seat is broad, flat and plush, and features longitudinal adjustment of the lumbar cushion, which allows the rider to adjust and vary the space available to the passenger.

Engine options include 15bhp 125, 33bhp 350 and 41bhp 500cc single-cylinder units that are fully compliant with the most stringent of emissions norms anywhere in the world. The entire range gets a double-cradle steel tube chassis and the X10 rides on 15-inch (front) and 13-inch (rear) wheels, shod with 120/70 (front) and 150/70 (rear) tyres. Braking duties are handled by twin 280mm discs at the front and a single 240mm disc at the back. Piaggio’s combined braking system is standard across the range while ABS and anti-slip ASR are optional.

The X10 is available in brown, grey, white and blue colours and Piaggio offer a wide range of optional accessories for the scooter, including hard and soft luggage, passenger backrest and an electronic anti-theft system.



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