2015 Detroit NAIAS Auto Show


550 horsespower, 157 mph after 220 yards

August 17, 2006 When we saw the results from round six of the 2006 AMA Prostar Drag Racing Champs held at the weekend, we just had to mention them. Not that there’s anything technologically groundbreaking going on, just our continued amazement at what’s possible given a ten year-old engine, a turbocharger and a spot of engenuity. The Honda CBR 1100 XX started production in 1997 as the fastest street bike available at that time, and it still sells new for less than a Honda Jazz, despite the fact it produces 164 horsepower, will touch 180 mph on a long straight road with a tail wind, and cuts a quarter mile in 10.3 seconds. On the weekend, riding a modified CBR1100XX, Kent Stotz equalled the Pro Street ET record of 7.33 ET and set an official 1/8-mile top speed class record of 157.90 mph. For the jargon uninitiated, that means he was travelling at 157 mph after just 220 yards. How much power does the bike produce from its 1137 cc motor? More than 550-plus horsepower.  Read More

Motorcycle with two front wheels and speed-variable wheeltrack

August 3, 2006 This vehicle concept combines attributes of both two and four wheels together to enable a two wheeler that changes its wheel track according to its speed – at low speeds the two front wheels have a wide track which reduces with increased speed until the wheels are together. The idea behind the radical wheel arrangement is that it enables a motorcycle and rider to be fully enclosed and capable of supporting itself at standstill in order to create a low risk category vehicle. “Motorcycles are economic in terms of energy consumption, road usage and parking space,” says designer Haim Haleva from the College for Teachers of Technology in Tel Aviv. “The problem is that they are dangerous, because a small bump can become a severe accident. Every year throughout the world, thousands of two wheels riders pay a heavy price, sometimes losing their life because they have chosen an economical, fast and environmentally sound form of transport.” “If we could make two wheelers acceptably safe for the masses, we could solve many of the urban transport problems.” Extensive image library.  Read More

The Fhybrid front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter

July 29, 2006 The Fhybrid scooter is a hydrogen electric hybrid two wheeler that has emerged as Crijn Bouman's graduation project at Delft University in Holland and it is a very different form of two wheeler than almost anything that has come before it. For starters, it’s the only front wheel drive two wheeler going around that we know of, has a reverse gear for parking (another first on a scooter), and a range equivalent to that of a normal scooter in that it can travel approximately 200 km on a full tank of hydrogen. Oh, and it doesn’t make any noise or produce harmful emissions and looks very different to normal scooter fare.  Read More

zumo navigation device for motorcycles

July 20, 2006 Just when we figured the established GPS navigation systems had given up against the Tom Tom juggernaut in the motorcycle market, Garmin has announced the debut of zumo, a new from-the-ground-up design that even at a distance has some commendable features that indicate it’s more than just a ruggedised automotive unit. Firstly, the oversized touchscreen buttons can be operated with gloved paws and secondly, the thing is designed so it can be used with the left hand while your right hand keeps the go-juice flowing. There’s also display which can be easily read in sunlight, a Bluetooth “hands-free-to-helmet” wireless technology capability, and a rugged, dependable locking mount. The Zumo is expected to be available in October 2006.  Read More

BMW to introduce new integral ABS and ASC

July 8, 2006 BMW’s announcement of its next generation Integral ABS this week could easily be overlooked as just another slightly better mousetrap, as anti-lock braking is not new. Indeed, in terms of function, the new ABS is not nearly as significant as the underlying technology and what it will mean for the future. The new Integral ABS incorporates the braking system into a fully networked system and provides the foundation for additional dynamic riding control systems. The first step in this direction will be known as BMW Motorrad ASC (Automatic Stability Control) and will be introduced on both K and R series motorcycles as an option next year. The idea behind ASC is to prevent the rear wheel from “spinning up” when accelerating on slippery surfaces or the front wheel from getting airborn under acceleration. ASC is the logical counterpart to ABS. The ABS wheel sensors determine the speed at which the wheels are turning. Registering any sudden change in the difference in speed front-to-rear, the electronic control unit is able to detect any risk of the rear wheel spinning. The immediate response is to interrupt the ignition to reduce engine power. If this is insufficient to restrict wheel slip, fuel injection is also interrupted. Of course the rider is able to deactivate the ACS at anytime, even on the move. Acting together, these two functions enhance riding stability and thus help to ensure a higher standard of safety on the road.  Read More

US$45,000 supercharged, Ducati-based 200 bhp Super Squalo

July 7, 2006 UPDATED IMAGE LIBRARY Shown for the first time at the recent Italian round of the World Superbike Championships was a motorcycle with an interesting heritage and incredibly impressive specifications – the US$44,995 195 kilogram (dripping wet and fully fueled) Super Squalo supercharged 998cc v-twin. The bike is loosely based on a Ducati 999, and uses the same Testastretta motor with modified internals, plus a Sprintex series 4-150 supercharger to deliver 200bhp matched by a strong and ultra-flat torque curve starting very low in the rev range. World renowned motorcycle designer John Keogh worked with Vee Two’s Brook Henry and Sprintex to design this unique machine of which only 99 will be manufactured, each an individually numbered, limited edition, hand-built machine with a dazzling array of the latest top shelf gear including a close ratio six speed gearbox, powershifter, ceramic coated dual exhaust system, Ohlins suspension front and rear, Marchesini wheels, digital race dashboard and a rear-facing camera and in-dash video screen for rearwards view. The Super Squalo will feature at this weekend's Goodwood Festival of Speed.  Read More

The Tire Ball prevents flat tyres

June 15, 2006 The pneumatic tire has been one of the stand-out commercially-successful inventions of history, with around 1.2 billion car and truck tires sold each year, and an indeterminate number of bicycle, motorcycle and RV tyres on top of that. Whatsmore, the better it works, the quicker it wears out, ensuring that there’ll be a market next year because 75% of the tires sold will be replacements. Quite remarkably, despite such ubiquitous usage, the pneumatic tire has a massive Achilles heel – lose the air and it stops the vehicle. The most-read story in the history of this fine publication is about Michelin’s Tweel, the first viable alternative to the pneumatic tire in more than a century with its greatest asset being that it doesn’t go flat. Now there’s another flat-proof inflation system based on individual balls or air cells that has evolved from motorcycle off-road racing, where to win, you need to be able to finish the race. Tire Ball not only offers virtual flat-proof characteristics but simultaneously improves traction and improves suspension performance. Right now it’s a technology that’s only commercially viable for off-road RV and motorcycle racing but materials technology promises to ultimately lead to highway applications for the product. In addition to racing, the Tire Ball is also a natural for agricultural, commercial and military applications where a flat might cost you a whole lot more than time.  Read More

Ducati to auction 2005 MotoGP-winning bike

June 10, 2006 In an extraordinary move, Ducati has released one of its 2005 MotoGP-winning race bikes for sale by public auction. The Desmosedici GP5 with which Loris Capirossi won the Grand Prix of Malaysia last September will go to auction in Monterey during the weekend of the US GP at Laguna Seca. One wonders just exactly who might roll up with a chequebook on the day given that the Ducati was the horsepower king of MotoGP in 2005 and both Honda and Yamaha would no doubt love the chance to have a look inside the 190kW (255 bhp) Desmosedici which redlined at 16,550 rpm and regularly topped the best they could build by several km/h at the speedtraps. We are unaware of any precedent for the auction. See the image gallery for images of the actual bike to be auctioned.  Read More

Jim Redman’s Ex-Works Honda 250cc RC164 Grand Prix motorcycle for sale

June 8, 2006 Every now and again, a special piece of machinery becomes available via auction and we always like to hear when that happens so we can tell the world. In this case the machine is a four cylinder RC164-1 Honda 250 Grand Prix racer. The bike was ridden by Jim Redman for most of the 1964 World Championship season before he switched to the new six-cylinder version for the final two races. Redman finished second to the Yamaha 250 two-stroke of Phil Read in one of the most hotly contested championships in history. Redman won the Isle of Man TT and the Dutch TT at Assen on the machine, on the latter occasion becoming the first man ever to win three Grand Prix classes in the same day. A further five second places, plus another win and a third place on the ‘six’ saw Jim finish with 58 points to Read’s 50, the latter taking the title by 46 points to 42 under the ‘best six results only’ system operating that year. Offered for sale by multiple World Championship winner Jim Redman, this machine (excellent detail pics in the image library) represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for serious collectors to acquire a genuine, ex-works, 1960s Grand Prix-winning Honda possessing impeccable provenance. Auctioneers Bonhams expect the bike to fetch in excess of UKP375,000 and might even make the highest price ever for a motorcycle sold at auction  Read More

Harley-Davidson kicks off construction of Its museum

June 5, 2006 There are few (we actually can’t think of any) companies on the planet which engender greater customer loyalty than Harley-Davidson. How many other company logos do you see tattooed on the customer's arms, chests and girlfriend’s bottoms? So there's likely to be a new "Mecca" for Harley enthusiasts in the near future as Harley officially launched construction of the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee this week with a groundbreaking ceremony that kicked up more than just a little dirt. Held on the future Museum grounds, the groundbreaking was accomplished in a truly unique Harley-Davidson style: by setting aside the traditional golden shovel and instead, literally "breaking the ground" with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. At the designated moment, legendary Harley-Davidson dirt track racer Scott Parker dropped the clutch of an XL 883R Sportster performing a burnout and sending the dirt flying off the spinning rear tire. Transport museums have featured several times recently with Porsche, Mercedes and Ferrari all creating masterpieces in which to house their finest. Harley, with more than 100 years of such rich and colourful history, the museum will no doubt draw visitors locally and from throughout the world to experience the people, products, culture and history of Harley-Davidson.  Read More

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