2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Loz Blain

Scarpar's high speed, all-terrain powerboard set to launch within months

Two years ago, we had a look at the Scarpar - a twin-tracked, high speed all terrain powerboard that seemed like a promising power toy. Well, we've just spoken to Scarpar CEO Andrew Fern, who has confirmed that this unique vehicle is going into production later this year, and he's taking deposits as of now. Basically everything on the board has been changed since the last prototype we saw - it now runs an independent electric motor in each of the two articulating tracks, and the hand-held throttle and brake unit is now wireless. And as Fern describes after the jump, getting it to a production-ready point has been a herculean effort; his design team more or less had to create their own realm of engineering theory to deal with such an unprecedented set of vehicle dynamics. The following interview is a fascinating look into the development cycle of a new product. Most importantly though, the Scarpar still looks like extreme fun, and a remarkable way to launch yourself into the foliage.  Read More

The Lito Sora - big, bad, and battery powered.

Montreal's Lito has thrown its hat into the ring with a new electric motorcycle that makes some pretty outrageous claims. A full 12 kilowatt-hours' worth of onboard lithium polymer batteries gives the Sora a massive 300 km range – that's 185 miles between charges. Or you can choose to wrap the throttle on and scream up to a top speed of 200 km/h (125 mph). With chopper/fighter bad boy looks and some interesting and innovative features like in-dash touch screen GPS and electronically adjustable ergonomics, the Sora looks like an absolute animal of a machine. You can't help but think that if it had an accessible pricetag, it would look very tempting to the average biker.  Read More

The Zacuto Z-Finder EVF

HDSLR cameras are taking off in a big way as cheap video rigs with quality interchangeable glass – but the more you get into SLR filmmaking, the more obstacles you find yourself working around. One of those obstacles is that you can't stick your eye to a viewfinder – you have to watch an LCD screen. And in harsh sunlight or wide aperture conditions, that makes it very difficult to get a tight focus on the action. And that's exactly why Zacuto's Z-Finder EVF was built; it's an alternative plug-in LCD screen for your DSLR that can be mounted on a frame or held separate to the camera. It's got higher resolution than your camera's screen, it's got a rubber eyepiece to block out ambient light, and a bunch of other pro video-friendly features that help move your DSLR closer to a proper video camera form factor.  Read More

RigWheels

DSLR cameras have brought high-def video capture into the hands of vast numbers of people like myself – people who have now had a glimpse at the possibility of making pro-standard video but who don't have the cash for all the pricey accessories that you need to move to the next level. So a bunch of businesses are taking creative approaches to bring down the cost of moviemaking – and here's a neat example. RigWheels are a simple and compact way to build yourself a cheap camera dolly to liven up your footage with sliding shots – the visual effect is similar to what we got with a slightly more expensive Glidetrack-type slider rig on our recent Zero Electric Supermoto review video.  Read More

The Lensbaby Composer Pro - drop in an optic and tilt away to your creative heart's conten...

Lensbaby is an odd company making distinctly analogue products to suit modern digital SLR cameras. The Composer Pro is a lens body that features a tilting head which bends light and distorts the focal plane of whatever lens optic you drop into it, giving you a bunch of ways to creatively mess with your photography in-camera for some pretty striking and evocative effects. It feels like a strange thing to do, putting such low-fi and distorted lenses on your ultra-sharp DSLR – but then again, hey, if it feels good, do it! Click through to see some example photos.  Read More

The Zero S electric motorcycle

The latest in our series of video road tests is America's leading electric motorcycle: the Zero S, from California's Zero Motorcycles. Seventy-five miles per hour and 60 miles between charges are the big numbers here – but how does that translate to real life use? Also, since electricity costs so much less than petrol, can an electric motorcycle be viewed as an economical option? And what about the environment? When the carbon cost of electricity generation is taken into account, how green are electric vehicles? These questions and more, answered after the jump!  Read More

Honda's RC212V took four of the top five finishing spots in the opening round of MotoGP 20...

The first MotoGP race of the year has been run and won, so we've got our first glimpse at what season 2011 is going to look like. And it seems it's going to look like the Honda Cup. Delivering on the promise the bike showed last year, Honda's RC212V took four of the top five finishing spots in Qatar, with only defending champion Jorge Lorenzo waving the flag for Yamaha in second place. Ben Spies rode to an encouraging sixth place for Yamaha, and the Rossi/Ducati combination started with a whimper, not a bang, in 7th. Smart money would have to be on Australian Casey Stoner for the title; after a brief dice with a wearied Dani Pedrosa, Stoner strolled away to a 3.5-second win.  Read More

The 2011 Zero XU

If you're going to be an early adopter and get yourself an electric motorcycle, one thing you'll need to get used to is charging the bike more or less whenever you're not riding it. If there's power outlets where you park, or the boss lets you bring the bike into the office, that's no problem – but if not, you might struggle to find an accessible spot to plug in. Which is where the latest addition to the Zero Motorcycles 2011 lineup could come in very handy; the Zero XU is the first Zero streetbike (and one of the only electric commuters we've seen) that allows you to quickly remove the battery and charge it away from the bike. Great idea, but we wonder how it will work in practice.  Read More

The Vyrus 986 M2 Factory

Boutique Italian motorcycle company Vyrus is hoping to cause a real shake-up in top-level racing by entering its radically unorthodox Vyrus 986 M2 Factory in the heavily standardised Moto2 competition. With the same weight, engine, tyres and electronics as its opponents, the Vyrus bike is more or less a controlled experiment in the racetrack effectiveness of hub-center steering. It will be the first time in decades that we've seen a machine enter top-level racing without a set of traditional telescopic forks at the front end. If it succeeds, it has a real chance at causing a suspension revolution in the sportsbike world. Oh, and there's streetbike and kit versions available too. Very exciting news.  Read More

The Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens with built-in 1.4x focal length exte...

Fiddling with lenses and focal length extenders to get the effects we want is an annoying necessity for photographers – but the latest announcement from Canon has the potential to make all the company's lenses at least twice as useful. The Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x is the first lens Canon has made with a built-in focal length extender. At the flick of a switch, it goes from 200-400mm to 280-560mm while maintaining its presumably stellar L series optics through the whole zoom range. That's one less fiddly lens change for wildlife and sports photographers, and one heck of a great idea!  Read More

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