December 18, 2006 When Honda released the first mass-produced four-cylinder motorcycle in 1969, the 72 bhp CB750K caused a sensation due to its performance. The horsepower and capacity wars that followed have seen the capacity of production motorcycles raised to a staggering 2.3 litres
and it seems that the scooter world is following suit with the announcement of the Gilera GP 800, an 850cc V-twin-engined scooter that will most likely become the the world’s fastest scooter when it hits showroom floors a year from now. Suzuki kicked off the maxiscooter craze in 1999 with its Burgman 400, then Yamaha followed with the 40 horsepower twin cylinder 500 T-Max in 2000, then Honda trumped that with the 50 bhp Silver Wing 600 twin then in 2002, Suzuki raised the bar further with the Burgman 650
. As forecast earlier this year
(which owns Gilera, Vespa, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia and Derbi) has been working on a new 850cc maxi scooter and the bike was shown publicly for the first time in Milan. The scooter will bear the Gilera name, with its 75bhp 90 degree V-twin motor giving it a top speed of more than 120mph. Perhaps even more significantly, the Aprilia engine comes straight from the new Aprilia Mana and features an advanced electronic transmission. A simple touch of the button on the handlebar and you enter into a completely different world. Three separate mappings for the totally automatic transmission and a sequential shift with 7 gears make it easy to find the best-adapted configuration for the riding conditions.
December 17, 2006 While the established players in the scooter game have shown concept machinery in the fuel cell, electric and hybrid genres, there’s one European company that has been quietly going about the business of designing and building a viable electric maxi-scooter with performance roughly equivalent to a 400cc conventional internal combustion engined mount – Vectrix
. The Vectrix maxi-scooter is 100% emission free, has a top speed of 62 mph and runs for up to 68 miles on a single 2-hour charge from a standard electricity socket. Combined with low running costs, minimal maintenance, ease of operation, and generous storage, the Vectrix maxi-scooter is the world’s first practical zero-emission two-wheel vehicle. The scooter will be available within months and the great news is that Vectrix recently purchased the EV rights to the innovative Vespa three wheeled carving scooter
and a prototype was displayed at last month’s Milan motorcycle show. The variable front suspension provides stability at low speeds and excellent handling at higher speeds. The 3-wheel scooter is extremely versatile and will be popular with local businesses and with consumers with limited riding experience as well as being ideal as a delivery vehicle and council/police mount.
December 7, 2006 Having wrestled the World MotoGP Riders and Manufacturers Championships away from Valentino Rossi and Yamaha, Honda’s next big challenge is to keep them and next year with the rules changing to an 800cc limit, suddenly everything is up for grabs again and in post-season testing of the new 800 machines Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and Suzuki have all shown they will have competitive machinery next year . We’ve already done a complete technical rundown
) of the RC211V 1000cc MotoGP bike which Honda is leaving behind – herewith is the official Honda unveiling of its 800cc, V4 replacement with a stunning all-new chassis built with mass centralization and ultimate handling in mind. Welcome to the future…
December 5, 2006 Denis Manning’s motorcycles have been chasing world land speed records for over three decades and in September, the BUB 7 Streamliner he designed and built captured the ultimate goal when it set the new absolute motorcycle land speed record at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. Rider Chris Carr piloted the BUB 7 streamliner to 354.832 mph on the down run and 346.939 mph on the return for an average speed of 350.885 mph, a new world record. Prior to the 2006 BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials the absolute motorcycle land speed record had not been broken since Dave Campos achieved his 322.149 mph world record run in 1990.
November 30, 2006 Triumph’s
Daytona 675 triple has taken out the ultimate accolade with victory in the prestigious International Bike of the Year (IBOTY) award. The 2006 poll, voted on by 15 of the world’s leading motorcycle magazines, saw the Daytona 675 win by a huge margin, scoring 26 votes, well ahead of Yamaha’s YZF-R6 (11) and the Kawasaki ZX-14 (9). The Triumph seems a particularly deserving winner this year, having also taken out victory in the Supersport class at the world’s biggest sportsbike shootout, Masterbike, (with 27 votes to the second-placed GSXR750R which scored 7 votes) and being awarded maximum votes (three) in IBOTY by six magazines – Australian Motorcycle News, Motorwereld (out of Belgium), Cycle Canada, KicXstart (Holland), Moto Motorcycle Magazine (Russia) and Cycle World (USA). The triple has also taken out numerous national magazine awards, winning, for example, the Two Wheels BOTY award from Australia’s highest circulation monthly magazine, plus the BOTY awards from Solo Moto (Spain), Moto Jornal (Portugal) 0300 (Greece), Moto! (Brazil), Moto 73 (Holland) and Moto Sport (Switzerland), none of whom were included in the above elite list of 15 journals. From a company that has teetered on the edge of extinction several times in the not-too-distant past, Triumph is to be recognised for its remarkable turn around.
November 25, 2006 We’ve mentioned before the spectacular reverse wheelie known as the stoppie – and indeed, we have previously mentioned the particular propensity well balanced motorcycles with wickedly powerful yet controllable and predictable brakes such as the Aprilia RS250
are at performing said stoppies. Not content with having set two official Guinness World Records for solo stoppies, Buell Motorcycles professional extreme rider Craig Jones
has been busy rewriting the record books and rules of extreme riding once again. But this time the world-best was a breathtaking two man effort with the former European champion and co-rider Wing Chui travelling an astonishing 305 metres together on their Buell Firebolt
XB12R’s front wheel. The new milestone was set on a damp and challenging day at the UK’s famous Donington Park race circuit. Jones took the Buell Firebolt to speeds in excess of 120mph before applying the front brake and balancing the bike on its front wheel. Wing Chui, a strong contender for the most courageous man in motorcycling, was mounted on an extension to the front wheel spindle. As he hung onto the fairing bracket Wing was able to watch Craig steer the Buell Firebolt and had a compelling reason to hang on tightly as he travelled at 100mph with the Donington track just a few inches beneath him.
November 21, 2006 We’ve written before about the groundbreaking work being done by South African physician Dr. Chris Leatt in the area of motorcycle safety and the Neck Brace System
which offers a major safety improvement for motorcyclists. The Neck Brace significantly reduces the risk of injuries around the neck area, on the cervical spine and collarbone, in the event of a severe fall. Although accident-induced injuries to the neck area are rare in statistical terms, when they do occur, they constitute a far greater risk for the rider. Developed by Leatt in cooperation with KTM and BMW and a team of specialists made up of accident researchers, bio-mechanics, accident surgeons, the Neck Brace System is now ready for release and will be sold worldwide by BMW Motorrad, from early in 2007.
November 20, 2006 The sudden realization after several decades of evidence that the world is drowning in burned fossil fuels has catalyzed a lot of initiatives to reduce consumption and emissions, but few are as tantalizing as the prospect of diesel motorcycles which further enhance the already economical motorcycle to new levels of fuel efficiency and offer astounding torque and drivability. Though we have written about several production motorcycles such as the HDT military-only JP/8
and the Dutch-built Star Twin ThunderStar 1200 TDI
diesel motorcycle, none have been available to the public in any quantity until this week’s news that a new diesel motorcycle from Holland has achieved production status and 500 will be built over the next two years. The Track T-800CDI
is being produced by E.V.A. Products BV Holland and uses the 800cc three cylinder Daimler Chrysler diesel engine used in the smart fortwo diesel, military UAVs and marine applications, matching it with a CVT, frame, driveshaft, running gear and ECU produced in-house. The engine uses a turbocharged intercooled Commonrail direct injection engine and produces a whopping 150Nm of torque. It comes with three pre-programmed ECU settings enabling it to be switched to run on 100% Pure Plant Oil (such as sunflower oil) or into a highly efficient but lower power diesel economy mode. E.V.A. CEO Erik Vegt describes the bike as a “BMW GS killer with KTM LC8 drivability and Suzuki Hayabusa-like torque.” “It’s the ultimate long distance and long life motorcycle that can run on diesel fuel or 100% pure plant oil,” says Vegt.
November 16, 2006 The Harley Davidson brand name is associated with attitude – serious attitude. It cultivates a brand loyalty second to NONE – how many other consumer groups tattoo their chests, biceps and girlfriends with a company logo? The HD brand is associated with a cruising style of motorcycle though, so Erik Buell’s decision to take Harley motors and do wickedly clever and decidedly different things with them
was a perfect opportunity for a brand extension. Harley’s purchase of Buell
coincided with the rise of a new form of motorcycle – the naked, raw, streetfighter – designed for getting from point A to point B reaaally quickly. The latest incarnation of the muscular yet lean Buell breed is the Lightning Super TT XB12STT, which made its worldwide debut at the EICMA International Motorcycle Show in Milan, Italy, this week. The Lightning Super TT boldly reflects the rebellious and aggressive spirit of the parent brand.
UPDATED IMAGE LIBRARY November 15, 2006 In announcing the new Ducati 1098 at EICMA, the Italian company emphasised that performance was THE priority in every step of the bike’s development. Every system, every detail and every component has been studied and pared down to its essence and performance increased to the maximum. If it didn’t make the 1098 lighter, faster or deliver quicker lap times, it wasn’t considered. This latest incarnation of the Ducati V-twin which has dominated superbike racing for two decades produces 160hp and 12.5kgm of torque on the road. The 1098 (it’s actually 1099cc, so maybe there’s another iteration yet to unfold), will be the most powerful naturally-aspirated roadgoing twin-cylinder motorcycle available with the highest torque-to-weight ratio of any sport bike. The 381 pound weight makes it the lightest of any of the superbikes in roadgoing form and with a styling reminiscent of the 916, here’s hoping it fronts the grid in 2008. Borrowing heavily from the company’s MotoGP and Superbike technology , the 1098 is quite simply the lightest, best stopping and fastest Ducati in history. Full details inside.