Friday, April 24, 2015

BMW Motorrad Japan kicks off ‘Ignite Straight Six’ project with two customised K 1600 GTLs

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We love the idea of a BMW K1600 supernaked, but these two are are not the kind of machines that we had in mind. Maybe Japanese customisers should just stop messing around with BMWs...

Last year, a bunch of Japanese customisers took to the BMW R nineT and the results were… er, less than palatable. And now, we have the Ignite Straight Six project from BMW Japan, which sees the creation of two customised BMW K 1600 GTL machines. The Japanese are, apparently, fascinated with the GTL’s 1649cc six-cylinder engine, and while BMW themselves haven’t taken the initiative to build a 1600cc 6-pot supernaked, that isn’t stopping the Japs from having a go at that.

The two gentlemen who’ve chopped a K 1600 GTL each are Kenji Nagai of Ken’s Factory, and Keiji Kawakita of Hot-Dock Custom-Cycles. The engine and chassis have not been altered on either bike, and Keiji Kawakita’s creation, ‘Juggernaut,’ also keeps the standard BMW Duolever front suspension, but everything else is custom-built. Kenji Nagai’s creation, very imaginatively named ‘Ken’s Factory Special,’ uses hand-made aluminium girder-type front forks raked out chopper-style using a modified headstock.

“At first, I had a bagger style in mind that grew out of the tourer image. But simply transforming a tourer into a bagger was too obvious a choice. So I thought of a different approach. I settled on the digger style. The long, thin digger style would make the in-line six-cylinder engine look even more prominent,” says Kenji Nagai. The illusion of dramatically low seat height and narrow motorcycle is enhanced by the use of 23-inch (front) and 20-inch (rear) wheels. Fuel tank covers, radiator and handlebars are all made with aluminium, highlighting Nagai’s craftsmanship.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Leon Haslam, Jordi Torres introduce the new Aprilia RSV4, Tuono 1100 to the media at Misano

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The new Aprilia RSV4 RF and RSV4 RR, and Tuono 1100 Factory and 1100 RR are some of the fastest, most powerful, most high-tech sportsbikes to ever emerge from Italy

Aprilia's World Superbikes riders, Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres recently had the chance to ride the new Aprilia RSV4 RF and RSV4 RR, and the Tuono 1100 Factory and 1100 RR machines at the Misano World Circuit in Italy. Haslam and Torres, who were on their way from Aragon to Assen, stopped over in Misano for a ride that Aprilia had organised for the media.

"I couldn't pass up the chance to come to Misano to introduce the new RSV4 streetbike and I really had to struggle to resist getting on and taking it for a ride! The level that these bikes have reached is extraordinary. A customer with the Aprilia RSV4 can take advantage of a chassis, electronic controls and top shelf performance which are very close to an authentic Superbike," said Haslam. "Today I had fun being a 'teacher' for the journalists, explaining the characteristics of the Misano track and seeing the street version of the RSV4 RF in action - I was surprised at the unmistakeable sound of the V4. I'm also amazed by the hypernaked Tuono 1100 and now the problem is that I want a Tuono for myself to ride on the street," added Torres.

The two World Superbike riders also had positive things to say about the new Aprilia V4-MP multimedia platform, which transforms the customer's smartphone into an exceptionally useful instrument for accessing ride data. "I was basically born with the smartphone, but Aprilia has developed something truly different than any other app in the motorcycle world. This application is really close to the professional instruments that we riders use," said Torres."You open it and you are immediately localised in the Misano garages, but that is normal in this day and age. What makes the difference is that the smartphone speaks with the bike's control unit, and allows a rider to optimise, turn by turn, on any circuit, the traction control and anti-wheelie-ing sensitivity, and to then analyse your performance at the end of the session, and try to improve, to try and find the best lap time," added Haslam.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Buell goes bust. Again!

Erik Buell with Pawan Munjal (MD and CEO, Hero Motocorp) in happier times

According to a report on the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Erik Buell Racing (EBR) has shut shop and has filed for receivership. EBR, which has US$20 million in outstanding liabilities, and 126 employees who are now out of work, is currently seeking court protection from creditors.

Erik Buell, a brilliant motorcycle engineer and designer, used to earlier head the Harley-owned Buell Motorcycle Co. After Harley chose to shut Buell down back in 2009, Erik went on set up EBR and the company’s motorcycle line-up included the EBR 1190RS, 1190RX and the 1190SX Superfighter. Expensive and unconventional, the bikes never sold well and could not take on comparable machines from Japan and Europe.

EBR had tied up with one of the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers, Hero Motocorp, back in 2012. The latter had invested US$25 million and picked up a 49% stake in EBR, but that was sadly not sufficient to save EBR. “The turn we recently took, after we thought we were moving forward, was unexpected. We thought we had secured funding, but in the end, we were not able to get the funding in place. Therefore we need to do the best we can under the circumstances for all parties in interest,” says Erik Buell. “To say this setback is a disappointment does not begin to express what I feel right now. I am personally grateful for the support of our outstanding workers, customers and vendors. While this is a sad ending, I personally hope for a new and better beginning,” he adds.

EBR is now seeking protection under a state statute that is similar to US federal bankruptcy law. Individuals and companies will be able to bid for EBR and its assets, with the winning bid to be determined by a state court. However, given his proven tenacity and engineering brilliance, we’re sure Erik Buell will be back sometime soon. What will it be this time? Maybe a high-tech battery-powered all-electric superbike? Whatever it is, we’re sure Buell will continue to innovate and we certainly hope he sticks with the motorcycle industry. We wish EB all the best.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yamaha XJR1300 Skullmonkee struts its stuff in Paris

This is not our most favourite XJR Special (that would have to be this XJR13 Racer), but the Skullmonkee is not too bad either. That yellow headlamp looks rather cool...

These days, as part of their "Yard Built" project, Yamaha are milking their retro-styled UJM, the XJR1300, for all its worth by showing various customised special edition versions of the bike, some of which are actually quite good. The latest to join the Yard Built line-up is XJR 1300 Skullmonkee, built by the Wrenchmonkees. A shortened and cleaned-up frame, narrower fuel tank and smaller headlamp are the Skullmonkee's key attributes.

"We worked hard to ensure we made no radical design changes for the build. Instead, we focused on adding our clean style and silhouette with no cutting or welding to the framework," says Wrenchmonkee Per Nielson. "We looked to strip the bike back and removed some pieces to make it look like they had never been there, then from the beginning we were looking to work with other companies to find bolt-on parts that we could modify to create our style," adds fellow Wrenchmonkee Nicholas Bech.

The W'monkees have made some judicious use of aftermarket bits to transform the standard XJR, including their own CNC-milled aluminium triple trees and engine covers, black aluminium clip-ons and Biltwell grips, MMB mini digital speedo with yellow illumination and a unique custom-made yellow headlight. The brake system gets a complete overhaul, with a full Beringer setup, including Hypersport brake discs, and Beringer calipers, brake master cylinder and matching clutch master, along with black steel-braided hoses. Matt-black aluminium rearsets have been customised in-house for a more aggressive riding position, and Öhlins STX 36 shocks have been added for improved handling. The standard XJR wheels remain, but are now wrapped in Michelin Pilot Road 4s for improved grip.

Other notable bits on XJR1300 Skullmonkee include an LSL Titan steering damper, a Wrenchmonkees custom rear bracket with LED light and a custom 4-into-2 stainless steel exhaust system. A gloss-black paintjob with Skullmonkee tank emblem and a few simple gold touches complete the package, which is a fitting tribute to the 20th anniversary of the Yamaha XJR1300.

Monday, April 06, 2015

2015 Triumph Speed 94 R pays homage to the 1994 Speed Triple

Bright yellow paint, Öhlins suspension and a screaming, howling 133bhp triple. How can we not like the Triumph Speed 94 R!

The original Triumph Speed Triple 900 was launched way back in 1994 and, two decades on, it’s still going strong. “21 years of hard-edged, no-nonsense British biking,” is how Triumph describe the Speed Triple and that’s not too far off the mark, really. To celebrate 21 years of this machine, Triumph have now launched two special editions – the Speed 94 and the Speed 94 R, both of which feature styling cues taken from the 1994 original.

Available in “Racing Yellow” and “Menacing Jet Black,” the Speed 94 features black exhaust silencer wraps, black filler cap, colour-matched fly screen, seat cowl and belly pan, yellow pin-striping (on the “Racing Yellow” colour option only), subframe painted in Graphite (to match the frame and the side panels, colour-balanced to match the look of the first Speed Triple), a commemorative Speed Triple 94 tank-mounted plaque and Speed Triple logos in the original 1994 typeface. An aluminium trellis frame, beefy single-sided swingarm, fully adjustable 43mm upside-down Showa forks and monoshock, and Brembo radial calipers with ABS complete the package.

In addition to the Speed 94’s paint options and styling cues, the Triumph Speed 94 R has a bit more – 43mm fully-adjustable Öhlins NIX30 USD forks, Öhlins TTX36 rear shock, Brembo Monobloc radial calipers, and Pirelli Supercorsa SP tyres. With 133bhp and 111Nm of torque from its 1050cc three-cylinder engine, the Speed 94 R is, we’re sure, as entertaining to ride as ever. “Broad power delivery specifically tuned to generate explosive low-down propulsion in any gear,” is how Triumph describe the bike. Sounds good to us, even if we do think that the Speed 94 might find it difficult to keep up with newer machines like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R and the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100.



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