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Motorcycles

There was lots of interest last year when we wrote about Sidam's Xnovo, which essentially looked like a 500cc micro-minivan on three wheels. But the Xnovo hasn't materialized on the market yet, and its USD$10,000 projected price robs it of any practical claim to economy. The California-built AutoMoto, however, achieves many of the Xnovo's aims for less than half the price. It's got a roof, a windshield, wipers, an MP3 stereo, CVT, two seats and a large, lockable storage trunk - and it has three wheels, with two at the rear, which attach to a platform that allows the body to tilt when cornering. Its 150cc engine gets 83mpg in daily use - 30mpg better than the Toyota Prius - and it's much easier to park. It can squeeze through traffic like any other scoot, but it doesn't require a motorcycle license or helmet in many US states. The AutoMoto should prove itself to be a practical and fun way to get around and it looks like a bargain too, at only USD$3800. Read More
The global financial crisis has clearly hammered the highest echelons of prototype racing, with established teams like Honda and Kawasaki pulling out of F1 and MotoGP respectively in the last couple of months. But for the production-based (and much cheaper) World Superbike series, things have never looked better than they do at the start of 2009. Despite the retirement of beloved champion Troy Bayliss, the 2009 WSBK grid will field a record 32 bikes from a record 7 manufacturers as BMW and Aprilia join the fray with exotic new machinery. There's also an influx of phenomenally talented riders - including AMA champ Ben Spies, BSB champ and ex-GP god Shakey Byrne, and precocious youngsters Tom Sykes and Leon Haslam to do battle with battle-hardened veterans like Nitro Nori Haga, Biaggi, Corser and Kagayama. The first pre-season test has been run, giving us a glimpse at who's fast and who's faster, so it's time for a WSBK season preview, looking at the class, the teams, the bikes and the personalities that make SBK the race series to watch in 2009. Read More
MotoGP fans can argue all they like about whether Casey Stoner's 2007 World Championship was a triumph of Ducati electronics over rider skill - but the fact remains that traction control technology is certainly relevant to us lesser riders, particularly in an age where half the price of a family car can buy you a 180-horsepower, featherlight superbike missile at any dealership. Ducati's 2009 1198S packs a 170-horsepower, 97lb-ft L-twin, top-rate Öhlins suspension front and rear, 7-spoke Marsechini wheels, an upgraded data acquisition and downloading system - and the same 8-stage traction control system you'd find on Stoner's GP8 or Bayliss's 1098R. Oh, and if you paid USD$40K for the 1098R last year, you might be annoyed to find out that this year's 1198S, a virtually identical bike with just 10 less horsepower in stock trim, is going to sell for less than USD$22K. Ouch. Read More
January 16, 2009 Honda finally released the fine detail and first photos on its 2010 Fury motorcycle today at the New York International Motorcycle Show, and the rumors we’ve been hearing have at last been confirmed – Honda is to build a full-on chopper, styled far more radically than anything Harley has ever put into production. Though no-one outside Honda has ridden it yet, we’d suggest that it will be the best handling, sweetest running, most comfortable, most reliable and affordable chopper the world has yet seen, lacking just one thing – a Harley Davidson badge. Read More
January 13, 2009 Start-up Xtreme Green is set to release several new and highly desirable electricity-powered machines in 2009, including a 4kW (5.4 bhp) motorcycle, a 3kW (4 bhp) scooter, a 250 pound Jetboard for watersport enthusiasts with a top speed of 35 mph, and three-wheeled Police Mobility Vehicle (see image gallery). The 266 pound lightweight motorcycle is the one that appears most likely to succeed in the marketplace in the short term, with a top speed of 65 mph, 2-3 hour plug-in charge time for the built-in battery charger, and a range of nearly 100 miles. Pricing has just been announced at US$7000 and with that much power and negligible running costs, we suspect the new company has lucked out in delivering the right product at the right time. Read More
January 13, 2009 The Royal Enfield Bullet has the longest production run of any motorcycle in history, having remained continuously in production since 1948, and with roots back to the1932 Bullet which was one of the fastest bikes on the road at the time – the Bullet has just been completely redesigned, and as the Bullet Classic, has all the hallmark design cues of its 75 year heritage, plus electronic fuel injection, a “unit construction” (one-piece), all-alloy engine/gearbox and a range of dress-up kits to turn it into a café racer or classic scrambler. It also makes more power than any previous Bullet, though with its modest 20.3 kW (27.3 bhp) output, it’s still regarded as a learner motorcycle in most countries. Most importantly, it’s cheap as chips, and returns better than 80 mpg. Read More
December 30, 2008 The Dutch E.V.A. company has been working on both a diesel motorcycle and a 2WD system for several years and the two have finally come together, with the release of the EUR 17,500 Track Diesel Motorcycle with adjustable front wheel hydraulic drive system as an optional extra. The 50 bhp in-line three cylinder diesel is both turbocharged and intercooled and offers a whopping 130Nm of torque from 1800 rpm upwards. The CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission) helps the motorcycle keep its revs low and it hence uses very little fuel – 2.1 l/100km at 90 kmh – and is to be marketed as a go-anywhere adventure machine with an appetite for almost any fuel available (it’ll run on PPO), a full aluminium luggage travel system, and a desert-sand lifting device for lone adventurers. Read More
Honda has been quick to signal some radical changes in direction to enable it to endure the tough times expected in 2009. Following news that it is cancelling all F1 racing involvement and development, and likewise with the successor to the NSX sports car, the company has announced it intends to pursue ever cleaner automotive technologies and the most exciting of its announcements is that it will have an electric motorcycle on the market before the end of 2010. Honda’s original core product was the motorcycle and history shows that motorcycle sales remain strong in difficult times – the Honda announcement of an electric motorcycle is likely to spur rivals Yamaha and Suzuki into action, with both having shown fantastic electric bikes already, and both afraid to give Honda a head start in what will surely be a massive market. Read More
December 2, 2008 If center-hub steering like that found on the Bimota TESI 3D isn't radical enough for you, perhaps this'll do the trick: Tier Motorsports have released a set of concept illustrations featuring a Yamaha R1 that's been modified with a single-sided front swingarm. The aim of the design is to provide a completely vertical steering axis for the front wheel, making for a much more direct and responsive steering effect than is possible with angled forks - and the idea also opens up the possibility of virtually frameless bikes, in which both the front and rear swingarms mount directly from the engine and no heavy steering stem/headstock is needed. Fascinating stuff. Read More
UPDATED It’s the first electric superbike and though its range is considerably less than the first modern four-stroke superbike, the 1969 Honda CB750, its top speed of 125 mph (200 km/h) is almost identical. Yesterday the first prototype of the TTX01 Electric Superbike was showcased at a press conference for the 2008 NEC Bike Show. Built to demonstrate the potential of electric sports motorcycles for the first emissions-free Grand Prix, the initial prototype is based on a Suzuki GSX750 frame and running gear and runs two 43 bhp Agni Lynch Electric motors arranged in line with the frame. Together, the motors produce 125 Newton Metres of torque and both have been modified to withstand high RPM using Kevlar-reinforced armatures. The vision is to create a lightweight, carbon fiber framed 2WD TTX02 with "hot swappable", 20 kilowatt hour battery packs, regenerative braking and a production run of 50 machines in 2010 with a target price of GBP20,000. Read More
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