February 26, 2006 Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR rider Sebastien Charpentier started his championship defence in the best fashion possible by winning the first race of the World Supersport Championship at the Losail circuit in Qatar yesterday, scoring pole position, leading every one of the race's 18-laps and setting a new lap record on the way. The Frenchman ran out a five second winner over Kevin Curtain who debuted Yamaha’s ride-by-wire 2006 Yamaha YZF-R6. Perhaps the most promising aspect of the race was that despite the speed of the well-sorted Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR, the new Yamaha was very fast and competitive though it is sill very early in its development. The third generation YZF-R6 looks like it has the goodies to take the race to the dominant Ten Kate team and the talents of Charpentier.
February 26, 2006 The World Superbike and Supersport Championships got underway on Saturday at the Losail circuit in Qatar, and already the indications are that both championships will see a much closer result than last season. Troy Bayliss returned to the Ducati Xerox superbike team after three years in MotoGP, and after the first two races of the year he leads the title with 40 points (two second places) from 2005 Champ Troy Corser’s Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra and James Toseland’s Winston Ten Kate Honda which both scored a win and a fourth place for 38 points. Had it not been for a first race crash by Yamaha Motor Italia rider Noriyuki Haga, who took out Corser’s Suzuki teammateYukio Kagayama with both riders battling for the win, the vastly improved Yamaha might have taken the win. With at least four makes capable of winning, the 13-round, 26-race series looks set for yet another year of spectacular racing. In the Supersports class Yamaha’s ride-by-wire 2006 Yamaha YZF-R6 debuted with a second place and promises a realistic threat to dominant Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR rider Sebastien Charpentier as the season unfolds
February 23, 2006 Ducati’s ability to make performance motorcycles that are easy to ride is uncanny. It’s original mid-range L-twin, the Pantah 500, was both an ideal learners machine yet the basis for many a sweet-handling racebike. Now the newly announced Ducati 695 represents a unique offering in the world of motorcycles and in the Ducati Monster family in much the same way; it is a motorcycle that is welcoming to novice riders but, at the same time, is capable of delivering a level of performance that can thrill far more advanced riders. While becoming the new entry point to the Monster family, Ducati claims the Monster 695 will transform a motorcyclist into a Ducatista, a member of the Ducatisti tribe of fans whose motorcycle looks, feels and sounds like no other. The Monster 695, a preview of the Model Year 2007, replaces the 620, and is a quantum leap forward in terms of handling, riding pleasure and performance. The potent new 695 cc L-Twin delivers much greater horsepower and torque – the highest output per cc of any Ducati air-cooled engine – while producing smoother and more fluid power, making every twist of the throttle exciting and satisfying.
February 22, 2006 A Suzuki Hayabusa-engined motorcycle – the “Ack Attack” – will attempt to break the 16-year-old FIM land speed record at South Australia’s Lake Gairdner in early March. With conditions at the spiritual home of land speed racing (Bonneville USA) not up to scratch in 2005, Californian-based Mike Akatiff has decided to shoot for the record in Australia, with the initial run planned at first light on March 6. The record attempt will be the highlight of the 2006 Lake Gairdner Speed Trials
, which runs from March 6-10. The streamliner, designed by Akatiff and constructed at the Akatiff-owned ACK Technologies (an avionics emporium) in San Jose, is powered by two turbo-charged 1300cc Hayabusa engines producing around 900 horsepower, which are ensconced in chrome moly tubing and a predominantly carbon-fibre skin.
February 21, 2006 Any motorcyclist embarking on worldwide travel or riding in difficult conditions has a tough decision to make when it comes to their choice of protective rider clothing. It's easy for a clothing manufacturer to claim that their products are good enough to wear for riding around the world or even competing in events such as the infamous Dakar rally. However it is far better to let those who actually wear them in these situations to comment on their effectiveness. Perhaps it is no coincidence that last year saw many adventure and competition motorcyclists choose to wear BMW Motorrad's Rallye 2 suit. It is an uncompromising item of equipment for serious riding and is designed to resist and beat climatic adversity, physical abuse and extreme terrain. Now, BMW Motorrad has launched the brand new 2006 Rallye 2 Pro suit – a direct replacement for the popular Rallye 2, and the first BMW textile suit to offer enhanced body armour across the shoulder, elbow, back, knee and hip areas.
February 18, 2006 The Motorcycle Design Association, a group of designers and professionals from within the two-wheel industry worldwide, has voted the Ducati Hypermotard
, designed by Pierre Terblanche, as the best overall motorcycle design trophy winner for 2005. In winning the best overall design award, the Hypermotard scored 50% more votes than the runner-up, the Yamaha MT-0S
concept bike. The MT-OS won the concept bike category with Honda’s DN-01
and the Victory Vision
tieing for second place. The Hypermotard’s award follows on from the ‘Best of Show’ award it won at the EICMA Show in Milan last November, one of the most important shows worldwide for the motorcycle industry. The Hypermotard also won the Open bike category, from Bimota's Delirio
and BMW's HP2
. Yamaha's R6
won the supersport category from the Motocycsz C1.
February 15, 2006 Reports emanating from informed sources suggest Honda is about to release its first turbocharged motorcycle in a quarter of a century with a turbocharged version of the VTX Concept 2 (pictured) which debuted at the Chicago Show in 2004. Designed by HRA (Honda R&D Americas) in Torrance, California, the bike is reported to have use a turbocharged version of the existing Honda VTX motor, which would give it a power output of 110 to 120 kW and brutal acceleration. We loved the existing VTX 1800 when we rode it,
describing it as “capable of thunderous acceleration”, and that was with the standard 75 kW motor – imagine how the bike will accelerate with 110+ kW! No doubt the new bike is a reaction to the extraordinary success of the Triumph Rocket III, and quite clearly, the new VTX would offer similar mid-range grunt to the big British triple, with an all-important bigger top end.
February 11, 2006 BMW Motorrad released a very interesting statement this week. The statement came with an accompanying image of a high powered motorcycle which BMW has developed to test a number of areas at the outer limits of motorcycle performance, encompassing research into lightweight construction, high performance aerodynamics and the “highly dynamic processes in engine and driving dynamics management under extreme conditions.” Examples of the latter include traction control systems which “will be introduced for powerful motorcycles in serial production in the years to come” according to BMW. BMW says the traction control and BMW’s Anti Lock Braking (ABS) system “will form part of an integrated concept to increase active safety.” BMW says that, “by conducting in-house development such as this, engineers benefit from the expertise derived from Formula 1 and BMW’s technology leadership in the field of electronics.”
January 31, 2006 The official colours of the various MotoGP teams are beginning to emerge with Kawasaki unveiling its new 2006 Ninja ZX-RR machinery in official colours at Phillip Island today during the opening day of the three-day official MotoGP test at the Australian circuit. Almost a year in development, the new Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP machine has been designed from the ground up by Kawasaki's engineers, based on the lessons learnt since the Japanese factory returned to top flight competition at the end of 2002. The new bike features a 990cc, inline four-cylinder engine that is significantly more compact than previous versions, housed in a chassis that Shinya Nakano declared a major step forward in terms of handling when he tested it at Sepang.
January 30, 2006 In the recent Dakar Rally, which is surely the toughest and most dangerous motorsport event regularly held in the world
, KTM motorcycles won for the sixth consecutive time, filling the first eight placings. Less than a month later, KTM has unveiled its new 990 Adventure – a motorcycle derived directly from the Africa-conquering experiences of the marque over the last six years, but with all the roadgoing niceties you’d like to have if you were travelling say, from Paris to Peking overland. Indeed, if wherever you’re going is a long way and very rough, the KTM Adventure and its Dakar-dimensioned Adventure S (35mm more ground clearance and 35mm taller seat) are now the most likely candidates for the job. The Adventure was unveiled to the world press yesterday. Our favourite quote from the release goes to the winner of the 2006 Dakar event, Cyril Despres: "At 190 km/h through knee-deep sand you have to feel confident on your bike. After more than 10,000 kilometers the 990 Adventure is practically a part of you."