Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

PWC

The Kawasaki Ultra 250X – 250 horsepower that is!

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.  Read More

DockitJet offers both a jet boat and a jetski

March 17, 2007 The concept of using a jetski to power a larger watercraft was pioneered back in the early nineties and has yielded a stunning array of versatile PWC-dockable watercraft such as the Shuttlecraft, Windjet, Jetmate and Jetmaster, but the idea has been taken in a different direction with this inventive PWC-dockable Rigid Inflatable Boat. Instead of going with fibreglass structures driven by one and quite ingeniously two synchronised jet skis, the Dockitjet utilises an unsinkable RIB for a fast, lightweight, very stable and incredibly practical watercraft capable of carrying six people plus all their gear quite comfortably. Available in two sizes (5.0 meters and 5.6 meters), you can dock and undock the PWC of your choice in minutes and have the best of both worlds. Videos here and licensing enquiries here.  Read More

The 25 mph electric hydrofoil surfboard

March 10, 2007 A hydrofoil is a boat with wing-like foils mounted on struts below the hull. As the craft increases its speed the hydrofoils develop enough lift for the boat to become foilborne - i.e. to raise the hull up and out of the water. This results in a great reduction in drag and a corresponding increase in speed and has resulted in some of man’s more interesting water conveyances. The advent of the world’s first human powered hydrofoil catalysed a lot of activity in the area and one of several new manufacturers of human-powered hydrofoils, inventist, took the knowledge it had gained in developing the Aquaskipper and developed the Hydroglide, a surfboard with quick-charge, high-torque electric motor and a hydrofoil underneath. It’s still in the development stages but showing remarkable prowess with a top speed of 25 mph. That’s faster than the human-powered hydrofoil record, so it’s no slouch. The Ni-MH rechargeable battery has an average run time of two hours and takes just an hour to charge. Steering of the Hydroglide is accomplished with a steering bar and as the videos show, you can lie down or stand up.  Read More

MV Agusta F4CC unveiled – 100,000 euro, 195 mph, 100 only

November 14, 2006 “I decided to put my name to this bike as I originally dreamed of it for myself”. This is how Claudio Castiglioni, the Managing Director referred to the new F4 that now carries his initials “CC”. The boss of MV did what any of us might well have done and gave in to his inner instincts, gave in to the temptation to create a motorbike, not just to meet strategic market needs, but to create something really special, something truly magnificent - just for the sake of it. To create the F4CC project, he obviously utilised everything at his disposal; exclusive materials and the latest technology to attain the utmost in performance. The new F4 CC was released overnight in Milan at EICMA and as predicted several weeks ago, it will be the most exclusive and fastest production motorcycle on the planet, fittingly restoring the name MV Agusta to the pinnacle of roadbike technology. Only 100 units of the hand-built MV F4 CC will be produced and price will be in the region of 100,000 euros. The unit will come with superb accessories including a Trussardi leather jacket and a Girard Perregaux watch made exclusively for the 100 proud owners. The figures for the new MV speak for themselves: the top speed of this Italian sculpture is 315 kph (195 mph), auto-limited by MV Agusta in deference to the lack of available tyres for speeds beyond that.  Read More

MV Agusta to produce US$125,000 310kmh motorcycle

October 12, 2006 The rumours regarding MV Agusta’s intentions to produce a limited edition motorcycle of immense power and cost have proven correct with information now beginning to escape the Italian factory regarding the New Limited Edition F4 100 and the first “spy shots” (pictured). The bike will be the most expensive production bike in the world at approximately EUR100,000 (US$125,000) and only 100 units will be produced. The all-new 1079cc motor will produce 190 bhp in Euro3 emmission-meeting mode and 200 bhp with open mufflers and will be electronically limited to 315 km/h. In keeping with a bike of such immense price, technologically advanced materials such as titanium, magnesium, and carbon fibre are used extensively and a special Brembo braking system has been produced just for the bike. Further proof that MV Agusta is positioning itself as the Ferrari of motorcycling (as if it’s needed) include the production of a special EUR1,500 (US$1,890) Versace jacket and a EUR15,000 (US$18,900) MV Agusta F4 100 wristwatch from a leading designer which will be sold only to owners of the bike, similar to the McLaren TAG Heuer.  Read More

Fantastic toys for the pool

June 5, 2006 The art of resting the mind is fundamental to replenishing life’s energies and lazing around in a pool on a floater just has to be one of the most potent , readily available and affordable methods of achieving said relaxation. Excalibur Electronics has built what must be the ultimate pool lounger for the playful-at-heart. The US $150 PVC extended armchair has two powerful electric motors driving independent propellers directed by the joysticks on either arm rest, enabling one to propel oneself around one's pool in comfort and style – a nudge here, a squirt there and you can maintain the exact position you wish. Each lounger comes with its own built-in drink holder, but there’s an optional US$50 radio controlled drink holder and snack tray and a US$30 floating radio to complete the suite. Along similar lines but designed for a different, more boisterous form of pool relaxation is the US$185 Ocean Scooter, which is an inflatable , battery-powered electric jet-ski for the pool. If you have a pool, both these toys could considerably enhance your enjoyment .  Read More

50 mph Quadski converts from Jetski to ATV in five seconds

Alan Gibb's Aquada and Humdinga high speed amphibious vehicles have been making the headlines for the last few years, partly because they work, partly because they have compelling feature sets and partly because the Aquada has set a few records, most notably in the hands of Sir Richard Branson. Now there's a new affordable Gibbs amphibian on the way that instantly becomes one of the most desirable recreational vehicles on the planet - it's both a quadbike and a jet ski and converts from one guise to the other at the touch of a button in under five seconds, using the 140 bhp motor to reach 50 mph (72km/h) on both land and water. The design offers a new class of recreational vehicle, along with a range of capabilities that make it ideal for life saving clubs, search and rescue, military, emergency services and aid workers who will be able to reach areas and people no two or four wheel drive vehicle could reach. Gibbs Technologies intends to license the design and technology for the Quadski and is seeking expressions of interest.  Read More

The Limited Edition MV Agusta Nero F4 1000

April 18, 2006 Limited edition everything is coming into vogue. As manufacturing becomes more intelligent and able to respond to an ever more discerning and directly available public, eventually we’ll see products made for very small markets that in many cases are a market of one. The MV Agusta F4 1000 Nero is just such a product – a limited edition of 21 all black F4 1000 motorcycles. The MV Agusta name is one of motorcycle legend. Started in 1945 in the village of Verghera by Count Domenico Agusta – a member of a powerful industrial family whose name is still worn today on some of the world’s most advanced helicopters. The Italian Meccanica Verghera (MV) Agusta company released its first 98cc model in 1945 and took to the race track to promote it. Within a decade the company developed multi-cylinder roadsters and fire engine red racers that came to own the world 500 and 350 titles for a decade before two-stroke machinery rendered four-stroke racers obsolete. Today, the marque no longer races in the MotoGP class but does produce a range of exquisite 1000cc sports motorcycles. The Nero Limited Edition is the brainchild of Australian MV Agusta distributor and former motorcycle champion Paul Feeney and will sell as a ready-made investment at AUD$32,990 (approx US$24,500)  Read More

The 1250cc, 165 horsepower, 60mph Jetbike

March 27, 2006 Imagine a motorcycle that it didn’t hurt to fall off. Or one that didn’t do costly damage to itself in an accident. The Aquajet Jetbike WX-1 1250(MAV) is just such a beastie - a new type of watercraft powered by a 165 horsepower three cylinder two-stroke engine via a jet drive to offer a wild 60mph experience that is uncannily like riding a real motorcycle – without the pain of a transgression. Every aspect of the Jetbike is designed to give a motorcycle-like riding experience, from almost identical riding ergonomics and controls to the steerable front ski which has suspension, steering and handling attributes akin to those of a wheeled motorcycle, meaning you can carve turns for hours on end. For motorcyclists it represents the chance to go silly in a familiar environment without paying the inevitable price of pushing the limits on a motorcycle – a hefty repair bill, bruising, missing bark and the occasional broken bone. Sixty miles per hour on water is VERY fast so the thrills are just as heart pounding as those offered by a grand prix motorcycle and muscling the machine at those speeds provides an extreme aerobic workout such that the fitter you are, the faster you’ll go. The Jetbike is also spectacular and delivers blitzkreig point-to-point times, so it is perfectly suited to some form of offshore racing once sufficient numbers are available. Finally, the Jetbike’s engine is seawater cooled and all mechanical components are underwater at speeds below seven miles per hour. Combine this low-signature-everything stealth with extreme speed, manoeuvrability, and carrying capacity and you have an ideal platform for the potent military weapons system which is under development. The design allows for packing massive firepower while still maintaining a healthy lead as the manned military vehicle with the highest power-to-weight ratio.  Read More

Ocean Scooter - jet ski for the pool

December 22, 2005 What’s better than an Ocean Scooter? Two or more Ocean Scooters – that’s what! This is one of the those products which just screams, “why didn’t someone think of that before?” An inflatable , battery-powered electric boat that’s fast enough to give the kids a thrill, and slow and soft enough to be used in a swimming pool for everything from polo through to your good old fashioned demolition derby. The ASTONE ‘Ocean Scooter’ went on sale in Australia this month but global supplies will be available for the next Northern hemisphere summer. The Ocean Scooter comes with a battery-powered display, a variable speed throttle, automatic power shutdown, full waterproof circuit protection and a protected propeller body which is impenetrable to probing fingers. And at US$200, it’ll offer a very high bang-per-buck factor - eight of them turns your swimming pool into a water polo contest with serious attitude!.  Read More

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