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Loz Blain

The 2011 Ducati Diavel power cruiser

Two very interesting pieces of news from Italian motorcycle marque Ducati this week. Firstly, a co-operative partnership and MotoGP sponsorship deal with Mercedes-AMG – demonstrating the dollar- and eyeball-pulling power of star recruit Valentino Rossi – and secondly, the wraps have come off one of the worst-kept secrets in the motorcycle industry, with the Ducati Diavel power-cruiser making its public debut. The Diavel has got most Ducati fans stumped – it's a bizarre-looking musclebike/cruiser/street rod design that seems to fit somewhere in between the Ducati Streetfighter and the Yamaha V-MAX – and it mates a whopping 240-section fat back tire with a firmly performance-focused, quick-revving, 162-horsepower V-twin motor. It's the first step into a completely new market for Ducati, and its bold, brutish design is already causing fights among the faithful.  Read More

The 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 and GSX-R750

Suzuki has used Intermot Cologne to reveal its first new bikes for 2011 – the revamped GSX-R600 and 750 supersports. But similarly to the 2009 makeover the Gixxer 1000 received, the new middleweights are more evolution than revolution despite the fact that the designers essentially went back to the drawing board. All-new engines and drivetrains produce the same peak horsepower as this year's model (that's 123hp for the 600 and 148 for the 750) but significant efforts have been made to improve fuel efficiency and reduce power losses between the crank and the rear wheel. The chassis and wheelbase of both bikes have been shortened, both bikes sport Showa's fashionable and fully adjustable Big Piston forks and there's a new and improved, radial Brembo monobloc braking system. The big news is that the Gixxer6 and 750 have gone on a pretty impressive diet, shedding 8 and 9 kilos respectively. It looks like a solid upgrade, if perhaps a little unexciting.  Read More

The 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

Kawasaki has stamped its foot; Team Green is sick of playing catch-up in World Superbikes, it will no longer be content to languish at the back of the field. But defeating the monstrous Aprilia RSV4 and the ominous BMW S1000RR is going to require a motorcycle leagues ahead of what Kawasaki has been rolling out in 2010. Behold, motorcycle fans, the new king of the castle. Ripping out a terrifying 210 horsepower and weighing just 198kg full of fuel and fluids, the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R leap-frogs to the front of the power and power-to-weight charts. But it's not just muscles that make this bike so special, it sports a completely redesigned chassis aimed at improving handling and racetrack lap times – and a traction control/ABS setup that ditches all notions that such systems are for safety. On the new Ninja, the intelligent electronics are all focused on making you faster than ever before on the road or track. Wouldn't it be an amazing turnaround if this machine could catapult Kawasaki back into World Superbike contention? Either way, this is one of the most exciting bikes we've seen in lime green for a lot of years, and it's a signal to the other Japanese manufacturers that near enough is no longer good enough.  Read More

The Horex VR6 supercharged motorcycle

German brand Horex hasn't made a motorcycle for 50 years – but since a new ownership team took over the brand name in 2007, plans have been afoot to change that – and at this year's Intermot in Cologne, we got our first close-up look at what the new owners are playing at. The Horex VR6 is a modern super-naked featuring a staggered six-cylinder engine with forced induction via a belt-drive supercharger. The quick-revving motor will develop up to a meaty 200 horsepower, putting it right up with Yamaha's 2009 V-Max in the musclebike stakes. The new German bike's looks will draw inevitable comparison to Honda's recent CB1100F – and when you combine the looks with the premium pricetag, it's fair to say the Horex VR6 is targeted at cashed-up older riders who will appreciate the retro looks, the comfortable riding position and the seemingly limitless reserves of power that blown 1200cc powerplant is going to pump out. It's great to see forced induction back on the bike shopper's menu!  Read More

Aprilia's RSV4 Factory APRC SE at Intermot 2010

With its multi-adjustable chassis and brutal 180-horsepower V4 engine, the Aprilia RSV4 was already the most race-focused roadbike we'd ever seen when we took it for a video road test earlier this year. Its race pedigree was proven last month at Imola when Max Biaggi cruised to a dominant championship win in what was only Aprilia's second season back in World Superbike. But the pace of progress is furious, and yesterday at Intermot in Cologne, Aprilia revealed a new model upgrade with a class-leading electronics package that brings MotoGP-style rider assist features like adjustable wheelie control and launch control to a roadbike for the first time, as well as 8-way adjustable traction control and a full-throttle quickshift system. If we thought last year's RSV4 was racetrack-focused, the new Arpilia RSV4 APRC Special Edition makes it look like a courier hack.  Read More

'Take a left after the church' – Navteq's Natural Guidance system aims to make GPS navig...

Brilliant idea or bad move? Awful advertising, either way. Navteq has decided that typical turn-by-turn navigation instructions like "in 300 meters, turn left" aren't 'human' enough. That's not how a human navigator would direct you; in fact you kind of need to train your brain to be comfortable with that kind of instruction. Navteq's thinking is that a driver will respond more effectively and comfortably to visual cues like "turn left after the church" or "turn right after the yellow house," so it's rolling out a 'Natural Guidance' system that does just that. It seems like a fairly huge task to put together those sorts of navigation cues across a whole set of maps, but Navteq already has 10 cities' worth of cues programmed in. It'll be interesting to see if it's worth all the effort. Oh, and it's worth clicking through just to see Navteq present the system in one of the most offensively patronizing ad videos we've seen.  Read More

Flying a helicopter isn't just fun, it's also not that hard

James Bond, Evelyn Salt, Jason Bourne... One thing you'll notice about all secret agents (at least, the ones worthy of Hollywood franchise love) is that if they need to get the hell outta Dodge, ANY vehicle will do. These super-spies are just as comfortable behind the controls of a jet plane, a submarine, a tank or a jetpack as you or I are cruising around in an automatic car. Why let them have all the fun? Here's a 5-minute hi-def primer on the basics of flying a helicopter, so you'll know what you're doing next time you 'jack an Apache.  Read More

Review: Garmin-Asus nüvifone A50 - the new king of navigation smartphones

Forget mobile device convergence, that's old news. Every smartphone on the market now handles everything from camera and calendar duties to gaming, GPS navigation, web browsing and social media. Differentiation is looking like the name of the game moving forward - offering do-it-all devices that distinguish themselves through a particular focus. Take Sony's reportedly upcoming PSP phone, which takes an Android 3.0 platform and mates it with a dedicated PSP gaming experience. Or this, the Garmin-Asus nüvifone A50, a fully-featured Android smartphone that comes pre-packaged with a car kit and built-in Garmin map data so it can shine as an in-car GPS navigation system. I've spent several weeks using the A50 as my primary phone, and if you spend a lot of time on the road, this new nüvifone is built for you and does a very credible job.  Read More

The Seabreacher X: admit it, you'd soil yourself if this came at you.

If you saw this thing on your neighbor's trailer, you'd laugh at him. "What sort of pretentious man-child buys a boat shaped like a shark," you'd scoff into your mugaccino, secure in the knowledge that you'd never shell out for something so ridiculous. But you might change your tune if you caught him down at the lake and watched him pulling 50mph (80km/h) barrel rolls, then diving under the surface and launching the thing 12-feet (3.6m) into the air like some sort of evil mechanical dolphin. The Seabreacher X is preposterous in theory, but in practice it's an adrenaline machine that can do things pretty much no other watercraft can – take a look at the video after the jump.  Read More

The Straddling Bus

China is home to more people than any other country on Earth, and they're moving into megacities at a rate that's simply unprecedented. Managing a transport plan for such a colossal number of people presents a traffic congestion and pollution quandary the likes of which we've simply never seen before. The Straddling Bus is an amazing public transport solution that drives over the top of the cars on a slightly modified road, able to stop without interrupting the traffic flow and to glide over the top of congestion. This go-go-gadget bus is far quicker and 90 percent cheaper to build than a new subway route, it's solar/grid electric powered and it's no pipe dream – construction starts at the end of this year.  Read More

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