Sunday, April 28, 2013

Yamaha's 1200cc Super Tenere secrets revealed

The 2009 Tokyo Motor Show last October saw some bizarre non-debuts as there had been an accord between the Japanese manufacturers that all would cut back their expenditure on the show in deference to the retrenchments resultant from the GFC. We mentioned this with our coverage of the Yamaha stand's Super Tenere “Art installation” at Tokyo. Here was a somehow fully formed motorcycle that was not really on show. Well the mystique has been maintained, because no images have been released yet, but we now know a lot more about the bike's fine details – the 1200cc parallel twin will have a 270 degree crank (for a v-twin feel), and will use Yamaha's YCC-T ride-by-wire throttle, have switchable engine-mapping, traction control, three-position anti-lock braking, a Unified Braking System that links the front and rear brakes, …

Update: Full specifications and photos of the 2010 Super Tenere 1200 have been released.

The Yamaha Super Tenere will have a similar parallel twin with a 270 degree crank to the current TDM900 and the TRX850 “faux Ducati” of the nineties – a motor with the feel of a v-twin, only this one will have 1200 cc of capacity and is designed to take on the BMW GS Adventure and Ducati Multistrada.
The radiators for the Super Tenere will be side-mounted, and final drive will be a hypoid gearshaft.
Stay tuned for more announcements as the product is apparently ready for launch and has been in that condition since before Tokyo Motor Show in October.

Source: @By Gizmag Team

Monday, April 22, 2013

The coming of the Confederate X132 Hellcat

We have developed a fondness for delightfully eccentric people and companies here at Gizmag, and the Confederate Motor Company is about as avant-garde as it's possible to be.

Begun 19 years ago by a trial lawyer, it's three production models so far have all been exquisitely built, and of quite unconventional design – that's them in the main pic, all hellishly expensive, limited-edition, heirloom-quality pieces.

Confederate proclaimed some time back that it had a “top secret game changing initiative” underway and it has now been confirmed that the bike will be named the X132 Hellcat. No images have been released of the complete bike, but there's no prizes for guessing it'll be as visually challenging as its predecessors.

Now we're not sure what the "game-changer" is.

It could be the price tag, which is expected to be around US$40,000 instead of the six figure sums required to get your hands on the three previous models (the F131 Hellcat, B120 Wraith, and P120 Fighter Combat). The lower price is expected to see the bike produced in far greater volumes than the 30 per year currently coming off the production line and makes the bike more accessible to enthusiasts.

It could be the motor. The motor the Hellcat will use is the first product of a long-term collaboration with S&S Cycle announced earlier this year.

It could also be the engine mounting system. The motorcycle power plant mounting system was announced as an effort to “supply highly differentiated motorcycles” and we're looking forward to seeing how those massive engine mounting work and what they contain.

The engine goes into production in July, and first deliveries of the Hellcat will begin October 31, 2010 – at the first annual Confederate Halloween party.

Motorcycle manufacturers have been attempting to smooth out engine vibrations for well over 100 years now, and if the mounting system is indeed that revolutionary, it'll be interesting to see how it works. Check out the photos carefully and you'll see there's a lot of space consumed by the new mounts. Perhaps its a variation on Norton's infamous isolastic suspension which demanded almost as much attention as the rest of the bike. The wildest and most technologically intriguing guess from Gizmag's motorcycle fraternity is a piezo vibration cancellation system which works in a similar manner to noise-canceling headphones.

Initially, Confederate will produce and sell its highly differentiated motorcycles to the public through a factory direct plan, with additional plans to develop a dealer network and S&S authorized service network in the second half of 2010. Plans include further S&S powered Confederate machinery and additional technology-sharing between the two companies.

Confederate's new C3, X132 Hellcat is targeted at “the American motoring purist and aficionado” and will be “priced within reach of the top 10% of Harley Davidson buyers”, a nice way of saying it will carry an astronomical price tag.

The press release claims the C3 will be “the lightest, fastest, toughest, smoothest, most exquisite Hellcat, ever” - which might leave a few existing Hellcat owners peeved given they've paid more than twice as much for their earlier models. We're looking forward to this one.

 Source: @By Gizmag Team

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fischer MRX: the quest to build the next great American sportsbike

Since the untimely demise of the much-loved Buell brand during the global financial crisis, there's been a gaping hole in the motorcycle market for an interesting, innovative, high-performance American sportsbike. And while the Fischer MRX might not tick all those boxes in its first incarnation, things are looking very positive for Dan Fischer and his new motorcycle company. The MRX650 takes the engine, forks, wheels and brakes from a Hyosung GT650 (itself a copy of the Suzuki SV650), and mates it to a 1990s GP-stype frame and swingarm by Gemini Technologies, with an improbable Ohlins shock on the back and a killer fairing design by Glynn Kerr. It's targeted to sell under US$8,000, and there's talk of a 1000cc variant once the Korean engine manufacturer starts making a litre-sized motor.

The road to the MRX was at once surprisingly easy and plagued with setbacks for ex-AMA Superbike rider Dan Fischer. Back in 2002, he hooked up an engine deal with Rotax to use the same wonderful 1000cc v-twin engine as the Aprilia RSV Mille, pulled styling and design expert Glynn Kerr together with American chassis specialists Gemini Technologies, and had a sportsbike prototype up and running within 6 months that handled like a dream and went just as well as you'd expect with that outstanding motor.
Unfortunately, it turned out Rotax wasn't being completely straight with Fischer - and when Aprilia got wind of the American project that was planning to go into production using the RSV engine, the Italian company made it clear that Rotax had no right to be selling the engine on.
Without the Rotax 1000cc engine, Fischer went back to Korean manufacturer Hyosung, whose production facilities and willingness to co-operate had impressed him before he'd settled on the Rotax engine - and now, some years later, the Fischer MRX has gone into production in Maryland, USA.

 Single piece GP-style frame

As a superbike racer, Fischer wanted to ensure his production bike had exceptional handling. As such, he went to Gemini Technologies, who had built the frame for Harley-Davidson's VR1000 superbike. Since the VR1000 project had been shut down, the Fischer machine could be closely modeled on its design, which itself was inspired by 1990s-era GP machines.

The MRX frame is the world's only once-piece production bike frame, designed with a controlled degree of lateral flex in selected parts of the alloy to help the suspension deal with bumps when the bike is cranked over at high lean angles. Gemini designed both the frame and the swingarm.

Hyosung 650cc V-Twin

Korean manufacturer Hyosung seems an unlikely source for the engine; Fischer's stated intention was to produce a street sportsbike comparable with what Japan offers, but American-made and with superior quality and handling. As a relative newcomer to the western streetbike scene, Hyosung has had its share of teething issues in the quality stakes, getting itself a reputation not unlike what early Japanese bikes had in the USA before they went on to become the benchmark by which all automotive manufacturing would be judged. South Korean industry is improving in leaps and bounds across the board, but it would be foolish to say that Hyosung quality doesn't have a question mark over its head.

Hyosung is rumored to have produced the SV650 engine for Suzuki - certainly, the Korean company has done some manufacturing for the Japanese marques over the years, but they won't say exactly what. Either way, the GT650 engine is very similar to the older, pre-2003 SV650 motor – the bore and stroke are just about identical, both are DOCH 90-degree v-twins and both use twin 39mm Mikuni carburetors instead of fuel injection.

Lack of fuel injection on the MRX is a little disappointing - there's nothing in the Japanese midrange market that's not injected, so the carbed Fischer will feel a little old-school at the throttle and on startup. Still, the MRX seems able to pass emissions tests in the markets it's already approved for - including America, Canada, Indonesia and Australia (with Brazil, Russia and Europe in the pipeline) – so it's probably a smart way to keep the launch cost down. Fischer says an injected version is on the way – and he's also clear on the fact that there will be a 1000cc Hyosung V-Twin within a couple of years, too.
The 650cc engine makes around 80 horsepower at 9550rpm with ram air assistance, and if the Hyosung GT650 is anything to go by, it should be fairly friendly and accessible. The 650cc v-twin is a practical and fun engine configuration for roadriding, one that can reward precise riding without punishing mistakes too badly.
There's some suggestion that Fischer may release a supercharged version of the MRX down the track, which would boost power significantly - as well as being pretty much the only stock production sportsbike out there with forced induction. Now that would be very cool.


The suspension setup on the MRX has me scratching my head. Up front, it's the cheap and cheerful adjustable forks and conventionally mounted Brembo brakes used on the Hyosung GT650R. But then there's an Ohlins shock at the rear end - a unit so expensive and high-quality that you'd have to look to the up-spec models of leading edge Italian sportsbikes (think Ducati 1198S, or Aprilia RSV4 Factory) before you'd find another one on a stock bike.
That shock is going to be a great thing to have, and undoubtedly contributes to the Fischer's early reputation for impressive handling, but I can't help thinking it's an odd place to throw money at when you're using a Korean engine and forks.


The first Fischer production bike is going to live and die on its appearance – so luckily, it looks pretty natty. Designer Glynn Kerr was the main man for Yamaha in the late 1980s, and came up with the styling for the TDM850 – but we won't hold that against him.

Kerr, an avid scholar of motorcycle design, went for a sharp and angular look on the MRX, lightning bolts of plastic bursting out from the headlight and a tank that looks like a sharpened Benelli unit. There's hints of Honda's VFR and Hyosung's GT650R in the front end, more than a little of Triumph's old Daytona 650 in the side fairings – and a tail that's pretty unique, including a single seat unit that looks improbably large and well-padded in the photos, leading a single, upthrust undertail exhaust that actually looks pretty good for a stock unit.

It's certainly a striking design, beautifully integrated with the hard angles of the frame.
The MRX is already on sale in the United States, Canada and Indonesia, and it has just been ADR-approved for sale in Australia. Prices vary according to each market, but the US retail is $7999.
Fischer's attention to handling is very promising, and the MRX looks like a good friendly entry-level sportsbike. It will be interesting to see where this brand goes and we wish them all the best. More information at the Fischer Motorcycles website.

Source: @By Loz Blain

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Supersports evolution: Suzuki unveils all-new GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 for 2011

Suzuki has used Intermot Cologne to reveal its first new bikes for 2011 – the revamped GSX-R600 and 750 supersports. But similarly to the 2009 makeover the Gixxer 1000 received, the new middleweights are more evolution than revolution despite the fact that the designers essentially went back to the drawing board. All-new engines and drivetrains produce the same peak horsepower as this year's model (that's 123hp for the 600 and 148 for the 750) but significant efforts have been made to improve fuel efficiency and reduce power losses between the crank and the rear wheel. The chassis and wheelbase of both bikes have been shortened, both bikes sport Showa's fashionable and fully adjustable Big Piston forks and there's a new and improved, radial Brembo monobloc braking system. The big news is that the Gixxer6 and 750 have gone on a pretty impressive diet, shedding 8 and 9 kilos respectively. It looks like a solid upgrade, if perhaps a little unexciting.

It's harder than ever to pull off something really impressive in the 600-750cc supersports market; the category is so well established, and racing has honed the bikes to such a razor-thin edge, that you've got to do something crazy like throw in a brand new engine configuration a la Triumph's 675 triple to really make any ripples in the pond. Add to this the financial woes that have held back the pace of development in the last two years, and it's unsurprising to see Suzuki playing it a bit safe with its latest update to the popular GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 supersports.
According to the press release, both bikes are brand new for 2011. Neither are a giant leap visually from the previous model though, so you wouldn't know it. All the effort has been put into functional upgrades, so let's take a look at the main differences under the fairings.

Weight Reduction

If you're not going to boost peak horsepower, the best way to improve a bike's overall performance is to drop some kilos. I'd be a much faster rider on track, for example, if I just laid off the pies for a few months. But since that's unlikely to happen, I'll settle for an 8kg drop in the GSX-R600 and a 9kg drop from the 750 to bring the curb weight to 187kg for the former and a very impressive 190kg for the latter. 190kg wet and a good 148 horsepower sounds like a whole lot of fun to me.
Weight savings have been found in the engine, the frame, the swingarm and the exhaust in particular. As far as I'm concerned, they're free to pull as much weight as they like out of the exhaust, but I'm frankly starting to become a little nervous at just how thin the metal in a frame can be before it starts cracking when you land a wheelstand – or how much metal you can pull out of an engine block without sacrificing long-life thrashability. Still, the brilliance of Japanese motorcycle manufacturers continues to astound me every time I pull another bike apart, so we'll assume they know what they're doing and bask in the improved power-to-weight ratios such efforts yield.

Reduced wheelbase

Provided the weight is balanced correctly, a shorter wheelbase means quicker, more precise cornering - just ask a Buell XB12 owner. Suzuki has used its revised, more upright engine design to shorten the new Gixxers by 15mm without shortening the swingarm (which would reduce rear end suspension performance).
While it's true to say that chain adjustment will change the wheelbase even more than that over the life of a chain, 15mm is a significant modification when you're talking about bikes that are made to improve lap times by minuscule numbers. It should make the 600 and 750 even better corner-carvers than before.

Engine and Drivetrain

Although the 2011 engines don't gain any horsepower, they've been redesigned for weight reduction and improved efficiency. Mass has been pulled out of the pistons to reduce reciprocating weight and improve throttle response, the camshaft profiles have been modified for more aggressive lift and the valves themselves are made out of a new, lighter titanium alloy.
Through these and other measures, the new gixxers are an impressive 10% more fuel efficient than the bikes they replace, which is nice for the pocket and the environment.
The gearbox keeps its slipper clutch, but the gear ratios have been revised - first is now taller, which is great on the racetrack but not so well suited for the road, where the 600 in particular already needs a fair few revs to get going. But to complain that sportsbikes are too track focused these days is to ignore what the market keeps demanding.

Brakes and Suspension

The new Gixxers' front brakes have gone monobloc, bringing them into line with most of the top 1000cc machines. The one-piece calliper design saves a little weight where it's most important, while adding a little piston contact area and increasing stiffness. These Brembo units, combined with their radial master cylinder, should be ferocious stoppers indeed.

Suspension is handled by Showa, and includes the must-have items for 2010: the Big Piston Fork system. This ditches the normal cartridge damper inside the forks for a single giant piston that rides against the inner fork tube. The springs are moved to the bottom of these upside-down fork units, meaning that they cause less foaming and bubbles in the fork oil. The overall effect is said to be a more controlled and consistent damping characteristic.

It also moves both the the compression and rebound adjusters to the top of the fork caps, which is hugely handy, because compression damping is probably one of the most frequent adjustments I make on most forks, and it's a pain to get to at the bottoms of the forks in the usual setup. So kudos there.
The rear shock is fairly standard, adjustable for rebound, compression and ride height. Suspension action at both ends has been improved by cutting half a kilogram out of the weight of the rims and sprocket carriers.
The GSX-R600 and 750 also retain their electronically adjusted steering dampers, which leave the bars free to turn at lower speeds but firm up as speeds increase to keep things stable and ward off the dreaded tankslapper.

Other Goodies

There's a few other nice touches worth mentioning, including:
  • Adjustable footpegs and levers
  • Built-in lap timer, accessible through a trigger at the right hand switchblock
  • Two switchable power modes – although why you'd want to tame down the performance of your 600cc sportsbike, I'm not exactly sure
  • Revised ergonomics
  • Smaller fairings with revised and improved aerodynamics (they're also a whopping 3.4kg lighter than the previous fairings)

  • So while there's not any big-headline changes in this latest update of Suzuki's vastly popular and fun middleweight supersports, the 2011 models benefit from a significant set of incremental improvements that make them well worth looking at. The latest GSX-R600 is unlikely to catapult to the front of the class with this update, but then for the vast majority of riders, choosing between supersports is splitting hairs on performance and much more about personal taste. And the GSX-R750 – well, that remains in a class of its own.

     Source: @By Loz Blain

    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    Chip Yates prepares to race his 196-horsepower electric superbike against the gas-guzzlers

    Chip Yates took a very American approach when he began building an electric superbike to race in the TTXGP and FIM ePower championships. He went for horsepower. One-hundred and ninety-six horsepower, to be precise, with a massive set of battery cells to keep the motor fed over a race distance. It was to be the most powerful bike on the grid. But both the TTXGP and the FIM released rule changes effectively disqualifying the SWIGZ bike from competition in 2011 - and rather than change the bike to fit the rules, Yates decided to pull out altogether - and take it racing against petrol-powered American superbikes in what is likely to be the first time electric and gasoline-powered motorcycles have gone head to head in an official race. But even with nearly 200 horsepower behind him, Yates has one heck of a tough job ahead of him.

    Electric bikes are already highly popular as commuters in many Asian countries - stand on a Shanghai street and count the silent scooters whizzing by, they just about outnumber the petrol bikes. But they haven't really caught on yet in the West, where most riders care more for excitement than efficiency.

    The only way electric motorcycles are going to get under the skin of most petrolhead bikers in Western countries is by beating the best of today's fossil-fueled beasts fair and square on the racetrack, proving that they've got enough performance credibility to get the pulse racing like our well-loved gas-burning superbikes.

    That's not an easy task though - racetrack lap times have been steadily coming down for at least 115 years now since the first recorded motorcycle race back in 1895 (which was won with an average speed of 7.3 miles per hour, through the snow). Millions upon millions of dollars, and more than a century of research have been spent making petrol motorcycles some of the fastest machines on the planet.

    Electric bikes, on the other hand, have only really come onto the radar in the last five years, interest in them driven chiefly by rising oil prices, climate change concerns and the promise of extremely cheap running costs and maintenance-free motors.

    There's certainly performance potential there - electric motors are torquey, bulletproof and very scalable; you can develop pretty much any power curve you want, given enough energy storage. And the first few TTXGP races have shown us that the novelty of electric racing can draw a crowd.

    But what will it take for a battery-powered bike to compete convincingly against its petrol-powered brethren on the racetrack? Chip Yates, owner of SWIGZ racing, is getting ready to find out as he prepares to be the first electric bike rider to go racing against gasoline-powered big twins on January 11, 2011.

    The first electric motorcycle to race against petrol-powered superbikes

    Racing in the WERA Pirelli Sportsman Heavyweight Twins Superbike class, Yates has thrown the kitchen sink at what he claims is the world's most powerful and technically advanced electric superbike ever built.

    Starting with a Suzuki GSX-R750 frame, Yates modified it to take a 194-horsepower DC motor capable of outputting a massive 400Nm of torque. And if that power doesn't seem excessive enough, Yates is planning a 40-horsepower upgrade in February.

    Ohlins and Brembo handle the suspension and braking duties, so it's clear Chip's putting his money where his mouth is when he says "We’re not going on track to make up the numbers; we’re going out to compete in order to raise our game and catch up to these gasoline guys.”

    Now for the bad news; to get around a racetrack at full throttle for a 6-lap race, this beast sucks a lot of power, even operating at 94% efficiency. So as usual with an electric, power storage is a key issue. Yates has fitted the bike with no less than 102 onboard battery cells, storing a total of 11.5 kW h between them, which is topped up during braking with a KERS system.

    That's enough batteries for a full race - but they come at a heavy price. The bike weighs a gargantuan 266 kg. It packs enough power to be middle of the pack in the division it'll be racing in terms of power-to-weight - and the February upgrade will put it up at World Superbike levels of straight-line acceleration - but Yates is surely going to struggle wrestling an extra 100 kg through the corners compared with his lightweight petrol-powered adversaries such as the Ducati 1198 and KTM RC8.

    Giving TTXGP and the FIM an electric finger

    In fact, the bike's weight is the primary reason why he's racing against petrol bikes in the first place. Both the FIM

    ePower and TTXGP electric motorcycle racing championships have introduced a 250kg maximum weight limit for 2011. Both competitions knew the weight of the SWIGZ bike before they made their rule changes, charges Yates.

    The TTXGP organizers claim the rule change was in order to keep costs reasonable and level the playing field for more exciting racing in the infancy of the electric age. Either way, Yates is certainly not happy about it: “Clearly, these championships are more concerned with promoting scooter development, and our bike is so much faster than the electric competition that we feel far more inclined to push our bike’s unique technology platform forward in the ultimate competitive environment of gasoline bike racing.”

    There's no doubt that the SWIGZ bike will be crazy fast for an electric bike - but at the ragged edge, will Chip Yates be able to ride around the bike's huge weight handicap and find a way to be competitive? As an AMA Pro-level racer, he certainly knows his way around a bike.

    We'd love to know what his lap times have been like in testing, compared with the rest of the field. Petrol and electric bikes will certainly be facing off on track a lot more in the future, so whatever happens when the flag drops on January 11, we salute Yates and the officials who let him race for their foresight. Best of luck, Chip!

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    Honda’s US$35,000 Moto3 Grand Prix machine

    Next year, the 125 class of motorcycle Grand Prix racing will be replaced by a new class of 250cc single cylinder four-stroke machines to be known as Moto3. This year's final 125cc season is the last remaining category from the original classes which comprised the inaugural 1949 World Championship and it shows that even the tragically myopic FIM is capable of change. Yesterday Honda unveiled its production machine for the championship at the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya. The 84 kg, 35.5 kw, 13,000rpm NSF250R will cost EUR23,600 in Spain (with 18% VAT included) and will be sold worldwide from December 2011, no doubt becoming the mainstay of affordable racing as the RS125R has been until now.

    The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme has taken a ridiculously long time to replace the irrelevant two-stroke 125 class and its blatantly anti-competitive handling of electric motorcycle racing lost it a lot of fans too - all clear signs that the Fédération Internationale de Football Association is not the only Swiss-based sporting body in need of some serious introspection.

    The broad outline of the Moto3 class is that engines will be 250cc four-strokes singles with a maximum bore if 81mm that must last a minimum of three races and will not cost more than EUR10,000. Unlike the recently introduced Moto2 class which uses Honda 600cc engines exclusively, there will be no single engine supplier for Moto3, though each manufacturer will be required to be ready to supply a minimum of 15 riders with its engines. Austrian manufacturer KTM is another with a machine and engine on the drawing boards for the category and it'll be interesting to see if Yamaha also joins the fray.

    Though Honda looks like it will play a major role in the new Moto3 class, it will no doubt have some mixed emotions at the demise of the class it has had such a long and technologically wonderful association with. Honda has won 164 Grands Prix and 15 World Championships in the 125 road race class, eleven of them with the RS125R.

    It was in this class in 1959 that the name Honda first became known outside Japan when it entered several twin-cylinder 125 machines in the Isle of Man round of the world championships.

    Within a few years the Honda name was gracing world championship winners in all categories, but it was the 125 class in which Honda first distinguished itself, and the exotic engines it created are still legendary today - the Honda works machine of 1966 comprised five (33 x 29 mm) cylinders, and produced 38 bhp at 20,500 which isn't all that bad considering that the current KTM and Aprilia machines, produce not much more than 50 bhp, and they're two strokes with a half century of knowledge extra in their design.

    The Honda RC148's pistons weighed just 34 grams each and the head diameter of the valves was 14.5mm. Legendary tuner and engine builder, Nobby Clarke, at that time in Honda's employ, used tweezers to put the Honda valve gear together.

    Honda has been a long-time supporter of the 125 class, building and selling its first production road race machine, the MT125R, in 1976 progressing through to the current RS125R, which saw two of the three factory Honda MotoGP riders (Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso) win their first World Championships on the bike.

    Hence it's not surprising that apart from the liquid-cooled, DOHC, 249 cc engine, the Moto3 machine is very closely based on the RS125R. The frame is very similar to that of the RS125R and both the brakes and suspension are identical. Even the fairing is a close replica with an identical drag coefficient.

    The engine has the intake facing forward and the exhaust facing rearward, with the cylinder angled backward 15° in order to help concentrate the machine's mass. It utilizes titanium valves for both the intake and exhaust to reduce frictional losses due to weight. Further frictional losses have been reduced by coating the cylinder bore in nickel silicon carbide (Ni-SiC) and offsetting the cylinder centerline.

    Like the RS125R, the 6-speed gearbox is a cassette design, allowing gear selection to be quickly changed.

    The NSF250R is manufactured by Honda Racing Corporation, and will be sold (along with replacement engines and spare parts) through the Honda Motorcycle dealer network. It will also be available through GEO Technology, an official supporter of the Moto3 class.

    Monday, April 8, 2013

    BRD electric off-road motorcycle range includes "stealth" police bike with race performance

    San Francisco's BRD Motorcycles has begun taking deposits on the 2013 RedShift range of off-road electric motorcycles.

    BRD claims the performance of the RedShift will be equal to or better than a top-end 250cc four-stroke race motorcycle, which is a lofty target.

    The most remarkable aspect is that it will sell both the US$15,500 SM supermoto and the US$15,000 MX motocrosser with a police kit for an additional US$2500 with stronger subframe to hold the included hard luggage, plus an uprated electrical system.

    The market for a high-performance police off-road machine is untapped, and may be quite significant given that electric bikes are almost completely silent.

    The entire RedShift range (even the MXer) will be sold as street legal units to ensure they are eligible for any state and federal eV incentives. The race plastics will be sold as an aftermarket option so that lighting and switchgear can be removed for off-road and racing applications.

    Pre-orders are being accepted via fully refundable deposits from tomorrow. The necessary deposit will be US$100 for the first hundred orders, and US$200 for subsequent orders. Orders will be finalized and delivered through retail motorcycle dealers in late 2012.

    Thursday, April 4, 2013

    New version of the Brutus electric motorcycle unveiled


    Chris Bell has just put the finishing touches to a new version of his Brutus electric sport cruiser. Brutus 2.0 will continue to be tweaked for improved performance ahead of an end of year production window, but has already managed a zero to 60 mph (96.56 km/h) test run in just 4.74 seconds - despite tipping the scales at 535 pounds (242kg) - and is claimed to have a top speed in excess of 100 mph (160.93 km/h), and a range of at least 100 miles (160.93 km) between charges. The new version has been treated to a new drive train, upgraded braking, new bodywork, new electronics and new controls.

    While it's true that last year's Brutus electric motorcycle was quite the stunner, the tasty bodywork changes made to Bell's chain-driven 2012 model - Brutus 2.0 - are simply mouthwatering. There have been quite a few performance improvements, too, starting with the batteries. The new model sees 153 volt/4.9kWh Lithium Polymer battery packs that replace the earlier sealed lead acid outing, and that are designed to last up to 50,000 miles with minimal maintenance (if any). The batteries are recharged using a household mains outlet (110 V), and it's said to take just three hours to reach full charge.

    Bell says that it's better for riders to know the minimum range because different riding styles will yield different maximums. Brutus 2.0 is claimed, therefore, to offer aggressive riders an effective range of 100 miles between charges.


     The D&D Systems brushed DC electric motor has 88 or 96 volts running to it, depending on whether the rider chooses the eco or performance program. Bell explained that the liquid-cooled, owner programmable Manzanita Zilla 1k motor controller manages pack voltage at 153 volts but only lets 88/96 volts through to the motor, allowing for "virtually no sag in amps or volts during hard acceleration and puts less stress on the pack as a whole."

    Working with the clutchless five speed transmission, this set up is said to offer more range and better performance in all riding conditions.

    New to the front of Brutus 2.0 is full HID and LED lighting, with the headlight area gaining a small fairing. The digital display is also a Manzanita unit, the LighTech carbon fiber rear view mirrors have been shifted to above the grips, and there are 50mm, inverted, 3-way, 14-point, adjustable front forks. The gas tank is not just there for show, it's hinged to allow keyed access to the batteries and a small storage area - big enough to hold a pair of gloves and some tools.

    All of the bodywork was hand-made in steel by Bell in his Las Vegas shop. The specs quote a 31-inch (78.74 cm) seat height, although the Link Type 3-Way 22-Point Adjustable Rear Shock caters for three-position ride height adjustment.

    With that impressive top speed, stopping power is of obvious importance. Brutus 2.0 has twin 6 piston dual Galfer rotor brakes at the front and dual piston caliper single Galfer rotor brake at the rear.

    "The rear calipers are independently controlled," Bell told us. "One by a standard foot brake and the other by a hand brake on the left side where the clutch lever normally is."


     Bell revealed that the next three Brutus prototypes are currently in pieces in his shop, waiting to be built. He also told us that he's currently working with Nevada law enforcement on a version of the electric sport cruiser with better acceleration and bodywork, and features geared more toward the useable office requirements of motor patrol officers.

    "If I can get a fast track through all the federal red tape, the end of the year will see models available to the public," said Bell. "As I move forward with meeting federal standards I am working with industry leaders to identify any potential issues and address those issues before they become a problem to gaining all the necessary approvals."

    "I really hate to put a price out right now because it will end up being less by the time we get to production but I can say with confidence it will be less than US$35,000," he said, when asked about the cost to future Brutus riders. "With rebates and incentives that price will drop quite a bit. As for the international market, I would love to make Brutus available and plan on it. Only time and demand will tell, for now I will focus my efforts in America but I will always consider special orders for international buyers."

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    Ducati to sell 2010 and 2011 MotoGP race bikes at auction

    In a sign of the times, Ducati has announced it will be selling two very recent Ducati Desmosedici GP machines at auction. The bikes, a GP11 2011 factory Desmosedici which brought Valentino Rossi his only top three finish of the 2011 season, and the other to GP10 which Casey Stoner took to victory in the 2010 Australian Grand Prix, are subject to an undisclosed reserve. "The lucky buyer must not only enter into a confidentiality agreement," said Ducati Corse's Filippo Preziosi, "but also become a close member of the 'Ducati family'!"

    The two bikes, both from the 800cc era of MotoGP, will be a part of the annual Monaco sale at the Grimaldi Forum in beautiful downtown Monto Carlo, to be held on 11-12 May.

    Casey's bike

    The bike for sale was built in the Ducati factory in Bologna between December 7 and December 11, 2009.

    Casey Stoner's Ducati Desmosedici GP10 "CS1" was first started for bench testing on December 14, 2009 before being track tested by Stoner in Sepang, Malaysia in February 2010.


    Stoner first competed with CS1 in Qatar in April 2010 and he raced it to victory in the Australian GP at Phillip Island in October 2010.

    The machine took pole positions in Qatar, Phillip Island and Valencia and powered the Australian to podium positions in Valencia, Assen and Catalunya. Its final Grand Prix was in Valencia, November 2010 having logged a total of 4,232km.

    Vale's bike

    Valentino Rossi's Ducati Desmosedici GP11 "VR2" was built at the Ducati factory between December 6 and December 10, 2010.

    It was first started for bench testing two days later. VR2's first track test for Rossi was carried out in the February 2011 Sepang tests and first competed in the Qatar Grand Prix the following month.

    It recorded a podium position at Le Mans, France in May 2011 and competed in its last race at the Dutch TT in Assen, having logged a total of 2,342 km.
    Valentino Rossi on the GP11 to be auctioned

    "The release of two very special machines like these is an extremely rare occasion for us, so the lucky buyer must not only enter into a confidentiality agreement, but also become a close member of the 'Ducati family'!" said Ducati Corse General and Technical Director, Filippo Preziosi.

    RM's Monaco auction will also offer the private Saltarelli Collection of historic Ducati motorcycles at the same event, providing a wonderful celebration of Ducatis history. In addition to the motorcycles, the two-day sale will also feature a magnificent roster of blue-chip automobiles.

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    Student-designed Roskva electric motorcycle launched

    Five Norwegian engineering students from the University of Life Sciences in Oslo have come together to design and build an electric motorcycle that's a little different from the rest of the field. Rather than construct the vehicle around a steel or aluminum frame (like the Brutus we covered last year, for instance), the Roskva bike features a carbon fiber monocoque frame that reportedly weighs less than 25 kg (55 pounds). Carbon fiber is also the material of choice for the wheels, single-sided swingarm and enclosed driveshaft.

    The final Roskva design renderings were released in May 2012, after which Erik Olsvik (26), Hans Ola Krog (24), Lars J. Norberg (25), Odd Arne Skjong (team leader - 23) and Espen Kultorp (24) got to work building the first operational prototype. The electric motorcycle was officially launched at Oslo's Aker Brygge earlier this month.

    During the formative stages of the development process, the team was considering maximizing aerodynamics by enclosing the whole of the front of the motorcycle (including the front wheel) inside a bullet-shaped fairing, but this looks to have now been abandoned in favor of a more minimal design with a beak-like, pointed affair.

    Within the lightweight frame, which has been strengthened to take the weight of the whole motorcycle, sit 414 individual lithium iron phosphate cells in series for a total capacity of 6 kWh. The batteries power two Lynch D135RAGS electric motors from the LEM200 series that deliver 80 Nm (59 ft lbs) of torque and peak power of 96.6 horsepower.

    An onboard Kelly controller on each of the two motors can handle a voltage of 120 volts and 600 amps at peak. All of which is claimed to give the bike a top speed of 180 km/h (110 mph), a range of 100 km (62 miles) and a zero to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) time of just three to four seconds.

    Elsewhere, the Roskva electric motorcycle features a telescopic front fork with 120 mm (4.7 inches) of travel, Krarm integrated rear suspension, regenerative rear braking and dual disc brakes at the front.

    The immediate future will see the team testing and tweaking the prototype Roskva in the steady move toward commercial availability.

    "We will not be able (or willing) to sell any bikes before additional tests and revisions have been performed," Skjong told us. "It will also require additional safety testing. The prototype is not road legal, but it has been constructed with current and future regulations in mind."