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Loz Blain

NCR's M16 MotoGP streetfighter: the most exclusive motorcycle on the planet?

Overkill. The word's origins are military in nature, describing a situation where one country has enough nuclear weapons to destroy significantly more of another nation that it would ever need to in order to win a war. But the term applies perfectly to today's sportsbike market, where any numpty with a license and a check book can waltz into a dealership and wobble out on a thoroughbred race machine that can break the speed limit at mid-revs in first gear and accelerate faster than any car on the road. Of course, for some people that's just not enough, bless their souls – but to create a vehicle that stands out from the pack in such a time of plenty, you have to take things to the absolute extreme. And it's a long time since we saw anything quite as extreme as the NCR M16, a bike that takes one of the most expensive roadbikes ever built, throws almost all of it in the bin and replaces it with the most exotic materials on the planet. Gentlemen, start your drooling.  Read More

Minix wing tip device promises 6% gain in fuel efficiency for airliners

Fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are huge priorities in the aviation industry – passenger airliners chew through amazing quantities of fuel. Take the Boeing 747, which guzzles somewhere around a gallon of jet fuel per second – it's clear that a percentile improvement in fuel consumption can make a huge difference to costs at the end of a long-haul flight. That's why the Minix wing tip deserves close scrutiny. It replaces the tilted winglets at the tip of an aircraft wing, can be retrofitted to any airplane, and smooths out the wing-tip vortex, reducing the aircraft's wing drag. Minix claims the design is five times more effective than a regular winglet and can save as much as 6% on an aircraft's energy costs. For a commercial Boeing 747, that equates to a saving of around 600,000 gallons of fuel per year, per aircraft. Food for thought.  Read More

Video road test: the 2010 Ducati 1198

Be careful if you plan to watch this video at work; the Ducati 1198 is motorcycle lust distilled to its purest form. It packs 170 horsepower, weighs 171 kilograms and has a top speed in excess of 300 km/h – more or less standard figures for a road superbike in these blessed days, but as the king of the V-twins, the 1198 delivers an enormous wall of low-down grunt that its 4-cylinder competitors simply can't match. It's an impossibly gorgeous bike to look at, dripping in exotic sex appeal and high-class performance pedigree... But is it a highly-strung thoroughbred like Aprilia's brutal RSV4, a sportsbike your grandma could ride like Honda's Fireblade, or something in between? From the Ducati WSBK pit garage to the road, Loz Blain and Noel McKeegan roll up the sleeves and put the flagship Ducati through its paces for the latest in our series of HD video motorcycle reviews.  Read More

Artists rendering a String Transport system

Trains might be a reasonably cheap transport option - but rail infrastructure is very costly to build. Monorail, maglev systems and high speed rail are more expensive again - and prices really skyrocket when you have to build bridges, tunnels and winding mountain routes, or cover difficult terrain. Which is why Anatoly Unitsky's String Transport Systems look like they've got so much potential. The system uses solid steel/concrete rails, reinforced with extremely high tension steel wires, to provide an efficient and smooth rail system anywhere between 3 to 30 meters above the ground. It's earthquake, hurricane and terrorist-proof, and capable of supporting vehicle speeds over 500 kmh, too, making it a genuine high-speed rail alternative, for a fraction of the price of road or ground rail alternatives. Fascinating stuff!  Read More

Monsterbike: you won't even hear the screams of the taxi drivers that cut you off

Ask people why they ride their bicycles to work and they'll tell you it's because they enjoy the physical exercise, the exertion, a morning workout that gets them awake and feeling sharp for their 9am meeting. Why, then, would you spend 10 grand on a bicycle that makes cycling easier and less strenuous, giving you less exercise per mile? We reckon this guy has the right idea - he's built a modern day penny farthing called the Monsterbike using a massive monster truck tyre as the front wheel. Sure, it seems to have a top speed just above walking pace, and it looks like a heck of an effort to ride - but the exercise factor is huge, and you'll never feel intimidated in traffic again!  Read More

The LinnStrument - a wonderfully expressive digital music interface that may never see the...

The last time most of us heard of Roger Linn, it was when he put his name to the revolutionary Linn LM1 drum machine that became such an integral part of the sound of 1980s pop music - it was used on so many #1 hits that you'll recognize its signature sound straight away. Now, Linn has come up with a new and equally novel tool for musicians - a digital music interface that uses a pressure-sensitive multitouch pad and a layout that combines a piano keyboard with a guitar fretboard. The LinnStrument is one of the most expressive, evocative and enticing new musical instruments we've seen, and its potential is enormous - but it seems this innovative device might be prevented from coming to the market due to unfortunate IP squabbling in the multitouch sector.  Read More

Steve Durnin's D-Drive - re-evaluated.

Every now and again, astute Gizmag readers come to the fore to keep us on our toes - and never has this been better demonstrated than with last Friday's D-Drive Infinitely Variable Transmission article. More than 40 comments and e-mails have flooded in over the weekend questioning the D-Drive's capabilities as a true IVT, and its potential efficiencies. Furthermore, an engineering report was made available on the D-Drive website that flat-out negates some of the key claims that were made in our interview video. So let's take another look at this device in the harsh light of engineering scrutiny.  Read More

The D-Drive: it could be a gearbox revolution, if only people could understand the thing!

Ready for a bit of a mental mechanical challenge? Try your hand at understanding how the D-Drive works. Steve Durnin's ingenious new gearbox design is infinitely variable - that is, with your motor running at a constant speed, the D-Drive transmission can smoothly transition from top gear all the way through neutral and into reverse. It doesn't need a clutch, it doesn't use any friction drive components, and the power is always transmitted through strong, reliable gear teeth. In fact, it's a potential revolution in transmission technology - it could be pretty much the holy grail of gearboxes... If only it wasn't so diabolically hard to explain. We flew to Australia's Gold Coast to take a close look at the D-Drive - and it looks to us like Durnin has pulled a rabbit out of his hat. Check out the video after the jump and see if you can work out if there's a catch.  Read More

*FACEPALM* Why didn't somebody think of this earlier? V-Lock takes all the fumbling out of...

Some inventions struggle because they're too complicated to explain. The V-Lock, on the other hand, is gonna do great, because it's instantly understandable even without an explanation, hugely useful and forehead-slappingly simple. Everyone who's ever unlocked a door in the dark will understand the problem and designer Junjie Zhang's clever solution in a flash. We love it and we'll take a dozen please.  Read More

Eyes in the back of your head: the Reevu MX1 motorcycle helmet

We first covered the Reevu helmet, with its built-in rear view mirror for motorcyclists, back in 2005. It's an excellent idea - a rider's vision and situational awareness are huge components of road safety. The more you know about what's happening around and behind you, the more options you've got in an emergency or a simple lane change situation. Well, it's been a long road to the market, but Reevu has finally announced that its RV MSX1 helmet has passed European standards testing, and is now available for distribution. It should be homologated for use worldwide in the near future, and if the final price is right, we're sure these guys are onto a real winner.  Read More

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