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.
Plans announced by Kawasaki Heavy Industries could see a new record set for high-speed train travel in Japan. The design for the rail vehicle dubbed the “Environmentally Friendly Super Express Train” (efSET) is expected to be completed by the end of 2009 and its promised operating speed has been pitched around the 217mph (350 kmh) mark, quicker than the fastest trains currently operating on the country's high-speed Shinkansen network which clock around 188mph (300kmh).
August 28, 2008 Just when you figured that the incremental development of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle was all you’d ever see comes news that Kawasaki is about to release a bombshell on the motorcycling world with the release of a radically different engine. Spanish Motorcycle Magazine SoloMoto
has details of the new motor revealed in an exclusive interview with a Kawasaki executive and plans to print the details in its September 16 issue. Most significantly, the preview interview, (here in Spanish
), indicates that it will feature similar technologies to those employed in the KTM-owned Husaberg 450 we wrote about earlier this year
. The radical Husaberg engine has been reconfigured to put the crankshaft near the motorcycle’s center-of-mass and results in a significant improvement in handling. Kawasaki’s patents predate the Husaberg design by several years and the technologies will be applied to motors with different numbers of cylinders and extending to KHI’s four-wheelers as well.
UPDATED IMAGE LIBRARY - The Personal Watercraft (PWC) market is in the grip of a horsepower “arms race” with a rash of new machinery announcements including a 342 bhp 2.2 litre V6-engined PWC from Austrian company HSR-Benelli and a 308 bhp 2.2 litre V8-engined PWC from the famous Italian MV Agusta motorcycle company. It all appears to have been catalyzed late last year when Kawasaki announced its 250 bhp Ultra 250X into a market where Seadoo’s 215 bhp RXP was previously the fastest of the bunch. Subsequently, SeaDoo has announced 255 bhp RXP-X and RXT-X models, Honda has announced a turbocharged 1500cc Aquatrax and Yamaha has announced a new lightweight purpose-built, turbocharged and intercooled 1812cc Super High Output (SHO) motor in its 2008 range. Given the radical upsurge in power outputs, one wonders what might be available a year or two from now. Read on …
November 30, 2007 Design students from Colorado have come up with a mountainbike that incorporates a Kawasaki KX85 engine to bring a new dimension to the idea of lightweight motorcycle - around 125lbs, or just under 57 kilos.
September 29, 2007 UPDATED - NEW IMAGES Demonstrating the company’s total commitment to uncompromising racetrack focus, Kawasaki
has revealed their 2008 ZX-10R flagship superbike
will feature traction control as standard. The 08 model is a complete overhaul of the model, featuring a new chassis, updated suspension, a reworked engine and new front-end styling.
July 31, 2007 Any jet-ski
boasting a stroked-out, 1500cc motor straight from the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R should be treated with extreme caution – but since the 250-horsepower Jet Ski Ultra 250X
was released, owners of the STX-15F have been feeling a little left behind. Not to worry – nothing succeeds like excess in the petrol head world - and the aftermarket has stepped in with a bolt-on supercharger capable of turning the STX-15F into a 330-horsepower aquatic widow-maker that can launch you and a horrified passenger to 60mph nearly as fast as a road-going superbike, leaving your 250X-riding buddies gasping in your wake.
July 14, 2007 The world’s fastest production motorcycle mantle is about to change hands again, returning to Suzuki due to the 2008 Hayabusa’s just announced specifications which should see it push past Kawasaki's ZX-14
. The new 1340cc motor is 41cc bigger, and the three-ring, aluminum alloy forged slipper pistons have a compression ratio of 12.5:1, an increase over the current Hayabusa’s11.5:1 and is expected to deliver 12 percent more power, giving the Busa a rear wheel output of 175 to 180 bhp. The motor comes in two different bikes – the speed king Hayabusa and the hyper muscular B-King
March 21, 2007 The concept of a powered watercraft for personal use is roughly 100 years old this year and the earliest we can trace came about early when the remarkable polymath Frederick William Lanchester came up with the idea of putting a powerful motor in a small boat. The personal watercraft (PWC) concept took shape in the 1960s
, combining the elements of self-power, small size and quick steering and though there were several viable efforts, notably by Bombardier, it was Kawasaki ‘s standup JET SKI watercraft of the early seventies which kickstarted the market. Unlike snowmobiles, motorcycles , quads and all other forms of personal powered recreational vehicle, the Jet Ski offered a thrilling experience with significant less likelihood of serious physical damage (water is a lot softer than mother earth) and a workout so physical that it promotes extreme health. Since then the PWC market
has evolved into four major manufacturers with two main forms of ski – stand-up and sit-down – with the larger sit-down versions easily serving as three-person craft. I have watched it happen, as I attended the launch of the original Kawasaki Jet Ski way back in the seventies. It had a 400 cc motor so it seemed like an ideal time to reflect on how far the PWC has come in such a short time when I recently attended the launch of the Kawasaki’s latest Jet Ski, the Ultra 250X
. As they have done several times in motorcycle history (the Kawasaki 500 H1, the Kawasaki 750 H2, the Kawasaki Z1, the Kawasaki Z1300, and most recently the Kawasaki ZX14
), Kawasaki has gazumped all those who came before it with a single product. Kawasaki Heavy Industries prides itself on producing the biggest, the fastest, the most powerful and every few years you can count on them delivering it. The Kawasaki’s Ultra 250X model designation refers to its horsepower output. That’s 250 horsepower – capable of pushing the Ultra 250X along at around 68 mph. That’s not the biggest strength of the machine though – awesome power is available pretty much from the get-go, and simply hanging on to a machine with 250 horsepower flinging you at the horizon is a feeling like no other. The Ultra 250X hauls butt like no other off-the-shelf PWC and we can’t wait to see what the aftermarket dreams up for it and what competitors respond with. In the meantime, it’s the king of the heap. We guarantee that if you can wrestle the Ultra 250X into submission, then grizzly bears won’t pose a problem and runaway locomotives will be simply backhanded away.
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.