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  1. It looks like we’ll be waiting at least another year for the much-craved Honda V4 superbike, as the Big H has just released details of its 2019 Fireblade – and it’s not a V4. In fact, and not surprisingly after just two years, it’s very similar. While it looks damn identical to the previous model (bar some subtle paint changes), there are significant alterations to the electronics suite and you could argue Honda has fixed the 2017/8 version. Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), which is essentially the Fireblade’s traction control, has been heavily refined for a smoother execution during corner exit. And previously, HSTC and Wheelie Control functions were combined, meaning a compromise in electronic set-up, whereas for 2019 the two are separate. Yippee. The operation speed of the Throttle-By-Wire (Honda’s ride-by-wire) has also been increased, which means the time required for revs to drop from full-throttle on throttle closure has been reduced by 45%. And the amount of power delivered when opening a semi-closed throttle has been increased. So it’s basically faster? Perhaps the real winner here – for track riders – is the ABS intervention being reduced on the 2019 Honda Fireblade, so you’ll actually be able to brake with more than a whiff of finger.
  2. The fully-loaded M Sport model Here it is sports fans; perhaps the most eagerly-awaited sportsbike model update for years. You’ve probably seen some shit internet pics being tossed around in recent weeks but the 2019 BMW S 1000 RR – thankfully – looks pretty sexual in production trim. And with actual paint. Anyway. Enough of the subjective guffery. You want the hard stuff; the 2019 BMW S 1000 RR churns out a claimed 207bhp (up 8bhp) and weighs just 197kg (down 11kg) in kerb trim. A lot more power, a lot less weight. A spiffing start. The completely new engine itself weighs 4kg less than the old lump and features BMW’s ShiftCam Technology – already debuted on the new GS – which varies valve timing and valve stroke, and allows a wider spread of power for longer; apparently “at least” 100Nm of torque from 5,500rpm to 14,500rpm. The previous incarnation was hardly short on useable power parameters, so this technology is juicily intriguing. The ShiftCam begins work at 9,000rpm and works in conjunction with variable inlet trumpets. 2019’s must-have is obviously variable valve technology… Other motor upgrades include titanium hollow-bored intake valves (a world first in production), which are activated by DLC-coated rocker arms that are 25% lighter. This allows the redline to be upped to 14,600rpm – some 2,000rpm short of Ducati’s new V4R. Cams are now powered directly via the crank (which means fewer moving parts), while the water and oil pumps are now merged. For 2019, BMW has also allowed a much easier way of reversing the gear pattern for tracks/racing – a real gripe with the previous model. An all-new aluminium bridge frame still houses the engine at a 32-degree angle but the engine forms more of load-bearing structure. With a fresh headstock assembly and new chassis layout, the 2019 RR is 13mm narrower where you grip your knees – as if you were cracking a nut with your botty. The weight distribution has also changed; more weight on the front from 52.3% to a whopping 53.8%. Nosey. BMW engineers wanted more agility, feedback and precision for better mechanical grip at the rear-end, so the steering head angle is now steeper (by 0.4 degrees), offset by a 9mm longer wheelbase to 1,441mm. An all-new underslung swingarm weighs 300g less than the old unit and, as you’d expect, the linkage system has been completely redesigned to suit, utilising BMW’s Full Floater Pro Kinematics. The fork diameter is now 45mm (previously 46mm) and comes with more modern closed cartridges, while the rear shock gets a larger 46mm piston, and both ends come as standard with refined Dynamic Damping Control semi-active suspension. New rims also shed weight, weighing 1.6kg less, and there are forged and carbon alternatives as part of the M Performance package. BMW is the only manufacturer still using its own electronics in WorldSBK, so the new RR surely benefits from this. A new 6-axis ‘sensor cluster’ (IMU) regulates revised rider aids, including DTC Wheelie Function which now comes as standard. Rain, Road, Dynamic and Race are the four modes available, with Race Pro again being offered as an extra for racier electronic fine tuning – you also get Engine Brake options as part of the upgrade. Of course, you also get Launch Control and a Pit Lane Limiter. And, wait for it, the 2019 S 1000 RR comes with Hill Start Control. We all laughed when the original RR came with heated grips… The throttle is now ‘full-e electromotive,’ meaning it’s basically fully electronic which gives an even lighter action, and BMW has also finally ditched the old skool clocks and opted for a rather swanky 6.5-inch TFT screen. Of course, being BMW, there’s an onslaught of performance enhancing upgrades via the M Performance range; everything from carbon wheels, rearsets, and lightweight battery, to remote brake adjusters and seats. And the price? No confirmation as yet but we’re hearing rumours of the base model starting at around £14,000. Bargain. In the press guff, BMW reckons that “Our fascinating brief was to take the predecessor model – which has been a dominating force in all disciplines for 10 years – and significantly improve on its performance.” Mmmm, not strictly true now, is it? While it’s unquestionably one of the best road bikes out there, and won every superstock championship going, the RR has proven to be a bit of a munter in superbike trim with no world titles in 10 years of competition. The 2019 BMW S 1000 RR looks set to change that…
  3. Aprilia was first to launch its new metal ahead of the EICMA show in Milan next week, with the Noale factory unveiling the 2019 RSV4 1100 Factory. Murmurings of an 1100 have been bubbling away for the while now, and many site this as a middle finger salute to their buddies in Bologna. Needless to say, the big news is that cubic hike to 1078cc thanks to new 81mm pistons and a bigger bore (up from 78mm), while the stroke remains at 52.3mm – a solution pinched from the Tuono. There’s a new oil pump, taller 5th and 6th gears, and the Marelli 7SM ECU features a new map and a reduced 13,600rpm redline. And that’s about the summary of the engine updates, save for that sexual road-legal Akrapovic exhaust. The RSV4 has always been known for its sexy handling and we doubt a few extra ponies will upset its cornering prowess. Aprilia has decreased the offset by 2mm and the wheelbase has been reduced by 4mm, which brings the front-end closer to the pilot and more weight on the nose. Now it’s going to be even sharper and more agile, and weighs just 199kg (kerb). There’s also an additional 5mm of fork travel (125mm in all) which is exactly what the bike needed to bring more feel to that innately stiff chassis, while the swingarm has been stiffened for precision. Brembo Stylema calipers – previously only reserved for the Panigale V4 – now adorn the 1100 Factory, along with factory-looking carbon ducts that feed air into the braking system. Brilliant for the morning commute on the M25. Max Biaggi still doing kneeskids at 84 years old… And talking of carbon, the fairings and those winglets are all carbon. It’s a bit of a shame there’s no change to those now archaic aesthetics (well over 10 years old now) although the 2019 Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory does look mighty fine in these pics from Imola. And the price? Not confirmed yet, but we’ve been told it’s far less than you think it should be. Racers and purist lovers of 1000cc superbikes will be pleased to learn that Aprilia is still offering a 201bhp RR version, although it won’t feature any of the 1100’s Gucci upgrades. Only new paint and optional ‘track kit.’ We’ll be live from EICMA in Milan next week, so brace yourselves for an onslaught of 2019’s finest…
  4. Well, race day didn’t go to plan did it? My goolies have only just dried out after a day of waiting around for track action in consistent rain. Regardless of that rain, we should have witnessed a MotoGP race today, but Silverstone’s new surface dictated otherwise. The good news, however, is that Tito Rabat’s surgery (on multiple leg fractures) went very well, and the Spaniard even took his first steps just hours after leaving theatre. Leg. End. So many questions need answering: refunds, that new surface, etc. But I do feel sorry for Silverstone – plus Scott Redding and Bradley Smith who have potentially been robbed of a final MotoGP race at home. Anyway, here’s the official statement – in full – from Silverstone’s Managing Director, Stuart Pringle. “Firstly and most importantly I would like to apologise to all of the race fans for the most trying and foulest of days at Silverstone. I am truly sorry this has happened. If I had known fans would have to wait for six hours in these conditions with this outcome, I would have taken the decision to cancel the event at midday. “We were willing to cancel the meeting much earlier but I was assured by Dorna that the teams were willing to race if conditions improved. “I’m very conscious of the amount of money people have spent on this event. We will be contacting all customers next week to explain what we are doing about the cancellation of this event. “Nobody is more disappointed by the outcome of today than me and the incredibly hard-working team at Silverstone, who have done everything in their power to try and ensure the race could happen. “It was not our decision to cancel the racing. This was a sporting matter not under Silverstone control and was a decision made by the riders and Dorna, along with the Safety Commission and Race Direction. “A plan was made at midday today in consultation with Dorna and Race Direction. We looked closely at the weather predictions provided by the Met Office with whom we were in regular contact all afternoon. The further delay this afternoon was due to the forecast of the rain subsiding, however the final decision was made without our knowledge or input. We kept the decision to race open in good faith, however this was taken out of our hands. “All the work we have done here to make Silverstone a better place for motorcycle racing has been done with the best of intentions. We will be making further investigations into this matter immediately after the Bank Holiday to understand whether our newly resurfaced track played a part in today’s inability to stage races. “We will be reviewing all the data we have on the track and gathering more, and together with the contractor, Aggregate Industries, a full investigation will be carried out. “Once again my sincere personal apologies for today’s events. Can I also extend my thanks and gratitude to all of the marshals, medics, security, catering, track and everyone else working on the event this weekend for their extremely hard work and dedication in trying to keep this event open.”
  5. Pic: Pete Bostock Riders Motorcycles’ Martin Jessopp gave the Ducati Panigale V4 its British Superbike debut at Thruxton over the weekend – albeit during a gap in racing when sponsors’ pillion rides take place (and there must have been a serious love sesh with Race Director, Stuart Higgs as this sort of skulduggery never happens at BSB). In anticipation of swapping his BMW for a V4R next season, the Yeovilian and pure roads specialist blagged a few laps onboard a stock road bike with slicks fitted and managed to utterly shag the rear tyre at the UK’s fastest – and most abrasive – short circuit. “I was impressed with that Ducati to be honest. She ain’t short of horsepower, I can tell you. I was chucking gears at it going down that back straight and the speed of it was very impressive. It’s got the grunt of a typical Ducati out of corners but it just keeps revving and revving. “Compared to my BMW, it just falls into corners. It’s so light, so easy to move around. Through Thruxton’s complexes, it was easy to chuck about compared to the S 1000 RR. Obviously it’s just a road bike with slicks on but initial feelings were impressive. “I cracked on with it and wanted to push to get a true feeling and I tell you what, if I could have raised the footrests (he munched a set of boots after just a few laps thanks to poor ground clearance) and put some better brakes on it, I would have happily raced that at the weekend.” So, judging by first impressions, it’s safe to say he’ll be swapping the BMW for a Panigale V4R next season then? “It all depends on when the bikes are ready, engine prices and revisions, etc,” reckons MJ. The V4R has been under development for months now but has yet to be released properly, let alone raced. Either way, it’s going to be pure Desmodromic filth. It’s fucking fucked, mate…
  6. After a 42-year hiatus from Grand Prix racing, MV Agusta has finally unveiled its all-new Moto2 challenger for the 2019 season – and it looks very naughty indeed. The Varese factory has chosen Forward Racing as its squad, although pilots for next year have yet to be confirmed. Of course, MV’s handiwork centres around a trellis/ally plate frame and houses a Triumph 765cc engine, controlled by a Magneti Marelli REX 140 ECU and an FCC slipper clutch. It’s going to be interesting to see if MV can replicate KTM’s trellis-based success given Kalex’s/perimeter frame domination. An SC Project 3-1 exhaust system brings the noise, OZ wheels will wear Dunlop control rubber, while MV has chosen Öhlins as its suspension partners. It has a wheelbase of 1,382mm, rake/trail of 24°/104mm and weighs just 217kg with a rider onboard. Brian Gillen – MV’s project leader – told me at the Tourismo Veloce launch that the company has already splashed well over €1.5 million on developing the bike without turning a wheel. “It’s a few years now that we are thinking about a return to the Motorcycling World Championship and with the modification of the regulations of the Moto2 category for 2019 it’s the perfect opportunity to express our technical know-how, that we developed during the last six years in which we raced in Superbike and Supersport. The Moto2 project is an ambitious one and we are involving our R&D resources and all our racing experience in order to develop a completely new bike, which differs from all the others and which reflects the values of MV Agusta.” Don’t know about you, but we’re moist at the thought of 36 open-piped Triumph triples howling round the world’s finest circuits.
  7. Join us at Thruxton BSB

    Yes sports fans. Join us for British Superbikes at Thruxton next week (3rd-5th of August), as we’ve teamed-up with the UK’s greatest dealership, Bahnstormer BMW, for a weekend of two wheel chatter and general hang time. The Budget Bike Battle steeds will be present and stealing the limelight in Bahnstormer’s mini showroom, right next to the skidpan in Thruxton’s all-new £2M hospitality centre. As well as the SRAD and championship-winning ZX-7R, Chris will also be making his British Superbike debut bringing the HP4 RACE and his Smokin’ Customs R 100/7. So feel free to drop by, chat shit, grab a sticker, and sit on the internet’s finest machinery. Please – no snail trails. Bahnstormer will also be laying on plenty of other entertainment and there’ll no doubt be bargains to be had with some mild bartering, as well as a free sausage to nibble on Sunday. Amongst the MSV/Jonathan Palmer monopoly, Thruxton is almost the forgotten love child of the BSB calendar but always provides exquisite racing and unconditional thrills. Our local circuit is also celebrating its 50th anniversary and, the way this year’s BSB championship is shaping up, next weekend is going to be a banger. So, come join us. Head on over to the Thruxton website and use code ‘STORMER’ at the checkout to receive a hefty discount on tickets. Ooooosh. BvG’s HP4 Race will be gracing Thruxton…
  8. There were two standout production bikes of 2018 at EICMA: Ducati’s Panigale V4 and the KTM 790 Duke. And, after Chris pulled a sicky, I hopped on the flu-ridden easyJet flight to Gran Canaria for the launch of KTM’s all-new naked middleweight contender. The 799cc LC8c parallel twin is the first all-new motor from Mattighofen since 2003. KTM engineers opted for this configuration for compactness, and it is a tangibly slender chunk of metal that packs 105bhp. Thanks to the firing intervals – 75 degrees apart – the 790 still sounds like a v-twin, but without the low-end chugga lugging and lumpiness. At the other end of the rev spectrum, forged pistons and a secondary balancer shaft in the cylinder head cope with the 10k redline. Another first for KTM is the engine being a stressed member of the chassis. WP split-function forks are non-adjustable (like the old 690) and KTM worked alongside a Spanish company to furnish the 790 with brakes. For the vertically challenged amongst us, the standard seat h is 825mm and a low seat option is 805mm. There’s also a 780mm chassis lowering kit. And then there’s the extensive electronics suite; launch control, adjustable traction control, anti-wheelie and multi-option ABS – all controlled by lean angle sensitivity – plus a quickshifter and blipper. Contrary to rumours, the ‘Track’ mode, which is rider configurable, comes as standard and allows anti-wheelie and TC to function separately. And finally, after however many years, you can cut the ignition, turn the bike on, and the system will remember your previous anti-wheelie setting. Thanks to silly laws, ABS resets itself. We spent the morning carving through the mountain roads of Gran Canaria on the Scalpel before heading to Maspalomas circuit to explore the 790’s limitations – and do some skids and wheelies. KTM wanted the most agile bike in the naked middleweight class and it’s safe to say they’ve succeeded. It steers with unfathomable pace, despite a very long wheelbase and it soon answered the most pertinent pre-ride question I had. Does the 790 carry those inherent Duke motard-based manners, or is it more of a midi supernaked? Well, thankfully, it’s the latter. Plenty are rightly positioning the Duke against Triumph’s Street Triple and, while the 790’s horsepower deficiency over the Street Triple is all too evident, the KTM makes up for an outright power deficit by offering superior smiles-per-hour and lightning dynamics. It would have absolutely chewed the Triumph on the nadgery mountain roads thanks to enhanced agility and flickability, although I would have liked some more initial bite from the brakes. It’s not as if I was yearning for more speed anyway. There’s a sumptuous blend of power, balance and control, with the front wheel hovering the surface during hard acceleration. Packing oodles of usable grunt at the bottom, the Duke still prefers life above 7,000rpm with a palpable hit in the midrange. As mentioned previously, the throttle and low-RPM etiquette is quite smooth (for a KTM), although if you want aggressive you can have aggressive. ‘Sport’ throttle is almost 1:1 and certainly livens the delivery, but is too aggro for urban climes. ‘Street’ is just the remedy. And what about the non-adjustable suspension? We’ve seen plenty of experts who reckon it won’t suffice, but I had no issues whatsoever – until we came to spanking it on track and it all got a bit bouncy. The only other concern is the 790’s puny 14-litre tank. In summary, it’s as if the A-Team have gone into a cave armed with a 390 Duke and a 1290 Super Duke R, and forced the pair to make sweet love. The consequent offspring is the compactness and agility of the 390 combined with that innate lunacy of the 1290, just far more manageable with a far more digestible price tag of £8,499. Our full review will be live very soon…
  9. All-new Yamaha YZ65

    If you, like me, have succumbed to a life engulfed in rigger boots and hi-viz jackets while your son/daughter blissfully annihilates your bank account by riding motocross every weekend, then you’ll be highly aroused by Yamaha’s latest release. Even if little Timmy has graduated through the schoolboy ranks and is now riding bigger bikes, the news of an all-new YZ65 should still be exciting. KTM has monopolised the mini segment from autos to 65s (through no fault of its own as other manufacturers have ceased development), so Yamaha’s YZ65 could be a proper game-changer – a bike that shakes up the entry-level sector like no other model has done for years. Everyone knows of the iconic PW50. How many careers have started aboard a PeeWee? Gazillions. Sure, it’s an auto 50, but racing one of them against a KTM SX is a form of child cruelty. Yamaha says the YZ features an all-new engine and chassis. The liquid-cooled 65cc two-smoker uses a reed valve system and comes equipped with Yamaha’s fabled YPVS power valve set-up for a wider spread of power. There’s a six-speed ‘box and a light action clutch for Junior’s little digits. “As well as delivering smooth and easy to use power with race winning performance, YZ65 riders and their parents can also be sure that this is one of the most durable and reliable models in the category.” Whether this is a dig at the sometimes-fickle KTM, we’ll never know. But it sounds like it. The all-new double cradle frame houses the motor and is connected to an aluminium subframe and lightweight swingarm. A 14” front and 12” rear wheel both come in that jizzy blue scheme, while wavey brake discs also look peng. 36mm KYB forks are fully adjustable and a KYB link-less rear set-up is utilised to keep maintenance at a minimum. The lil’ 65 really does look like a mini YZ450F and will be hitting UK shores in June this year. It just so happens that my son is old enough to progress to a 65cc next year, so we’ll be doing our utmost best to borrow one from Yamaha UK and accidentally keep it. [embedded content] Share the love:
  10. Suzuki has just confirmed a recall on all GSX-R1000 and GSX-R1000R models, which affects just over 600 registered bikes in the UK. The recall has been, erm, called due to iffy ECUs that need replacing. Don’t panic. Nothing too serious. Suzuki has identified a potential fault when upshifting from first to second gear, where neutral can be selected and consequent damage can occur if the rider shifts into second without using the clutch. “An excessive load can be applied to the powertrain which can cause the chain to stretch and, in the worst case, the drive chain can come off or break. Customer safety and satisfaction is the highest priority and Suzuki has elected to commence a recall to fit a new component to avoid any potential future issues. “Owners of officially imported and registered machines that are affected by the recall will receive a letter advising them to contact their local authorised Suzuki dealership, who will carry out the fitment of the new component free of charge. Notifications will commence during March when replacement parts stock is available.” We did notice a somewhat sticky action during our test at Jerez… Share the love:
  11. As you should know by now, Triumph has been busy revising the Tiger 800 for 2018 with a claimed 200 upgrades to the engine and chassis, gaining many of the improvements that its bigger brother – the Tiger 1200 – adopted this season. Internal work on the 94bhp 800cc triple, apparently, offers a more responsive delivery and there’s a shorter first gear for off-road benefits. Other highlights include Triumph’s fabled new TFT dash, updated Brembo brakes, shifting the ‘bars towards the rider by 10mm (a la Tiger 1200), updated cruise control, a five-way adjustable screen and an array of new switchgear featured on Hinckley’s latest machinery. Triumph has also geared the Tiger 800 further toward off-road shenanigans without sacrificing Tarmac prowess. The addition of ‘Off Road Pro’ mode allows skids and wheelies, and proper mudplugging capabilities. The launch was in Marrakesh, Morocco: the ideal testing facility for such a versatile middleweight. With the continual growth of 44T, and where we’re both busy on other launches and ensuring our trusty Budget Bike Battle steeds complete the trip to Africa, the time has come to share the love and allow other to represent our fine brand. Ladies and gents, Mossy… Which is why we sent Chris Moss. ‘Mossy’ is an industry legend. Simple. Famous for his brutal honesty and off-bike skulduggery (we’ll get to that another time), Mossy has just completed two days of riding in Morocco and we’ve gathered his first ride thoughts on the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 via telecom communication. “There are six versions in total. I rode the top spec XRT road model and XCA off-road version on a great test that involved every terrain possible: nice roads, battered roads, scenic roads and very twisty roads. All in all, Triumph succeeded in letting us see this bike in its best light. The off-road, in particular, I was surprised as to how well it did. “Listen, it’s a big, fat, heavy thing but they put it on some decent tyres (Pirelli Scorpion Rally) and the bike was way more manageable than I thought it would be, and that’s probably the word to sum it up: manageable. Easy to master, go-anywhere, anytime type bike.” “I’m not sure whether the updates to the engine have made a huge difference but it’s very useable and there’s added excitement in the midrange when it gets going, a rush of extra speed. Overall, it handles very well, stops well and the suspension is very good – I especially like the better-spec kit on the XCA. “It’s one of Triumphs best-sellers and I don’t see any reason why that will change for 2018. I would have one of those as a longtermer straight away [because Mossy is a tight bastard who hasn’t bought a bike in years] because it’s a tool, something you can use for every aspect of motorcycling.” You can expect some fine japery, concise opinion and all the finer details on the Tiger 800 in a video coming soon. In the meantime, here’s the pricing… Tiger 800 XR £9,100.00 Tiger 800 XRX £10,550.00 Tiger 800 XCX £11,250.00 Tiger 800 XRT £12,050.00 Tiger 800 XCA £12,450.00 Tiger 800 XRX Low £10,550.00 Share the love:
  12. After several teasers involving racing gods and terrible flat-track riders, Carl Fogarty and Gary Johnson, Triumph has finally officially unveiled a heavily revised Speed Triple. The iconic naked thumper comes in S and RS flavours for 2018 and feature a number of significant updates including more power and an improved electronics suite. As with most of Triumph’s range this season, the Speed Triple is evolution over revolution. The 1050cc triple engine for both models has been treated to (over) 105 new components and now makes a claimed 148bhp (up by 7%), with Triumph reckoning she now spins faster and revs harder to a redline that’s been extended by 1,000rpm – sounds very similar to the new Tiger’s workings. Lighter crank gear, new pistons that slide by Nikasil-plated liners, and a reworked cylinder head are partly responsible for the additional power, and those sexy Arrow cans are standard on the RS. There’s also mention of an improved gearbox and slipper clutch, whatever that means. Hinckley’s engineers have also worked on something that’s so often overlooked, which is rerouting the oil system. It now runs the oil internally through the cylinder head and does away with messy external pipes. The Street Triple’s 5-inch TFT dash and 5-axis joystick/snazzy switchgear now adorns the S and RS, complemented by Triumph’s latest ride-by-wire trickery and features such as cruise control and a USB charging point. ‘Optimised’ cornering ABS and multi-level TC is controlled by a Continental IMU, and the RS comes with keyless ignition as standard. Finer details are scant regarding the chassis. The 2018 Speed Triple retains the twin-spar aluminium frame and single-sided swinger’ of the previous model – optimised for stiffness and rigidity – but gains new 5-spoke rims that look fiiiiiiya. The Speed Triple S comes with Showa suspension at either end, while the RS is fitted with Öhlins NIX30 forks and a TTX36 shock. The RS also weighs 3kg less than the S. The Speed Triple has always been one step behind its true supernaked adversaries, lacking outright performance but offering big, bullish behaviour and a triple treat to offset its sporting deficiencies. I rode the last incarnation at the launch at Calafat, which was a big improvement in almost every area (except wheelies, which was a bit guff), so it’ll be interesting to sample Hinckley’s latest workings. Assuming the SRAD and Ninja actually make it to southern Spain without spontaneously combusting, we’ll be riding the new Speed Triple RS at the launch in Almeria in a few weeks. Share the love:
  13. Some offices are better than others. An office that includes a medley of 2018 R1Ms based at Portimao is a pretty sexy office, and an office that Chris has inhabited this week for the press launch of Yamaha’s latest crossplane offerings. Unveiled in a very elusive fashion at the Milan show last year, the subtlety refreshed R1 and R1M almost slipped the net… There are several significant updates to one of the finest track steeds available for 2018: Öhlins Smart EC2, the addition of a blipper, ‘improved’ Lift control and new ECU mapping. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, etc, although we’d like to have seen some upgraded brakes in that tech spec. After hearing about the new Öhlins kit – damn similar to that seen on the Panigale V4 – I was hoping for a massive step in performance and fluidity. Is it? Well, Chris has an allergy to any kind of work typing and the general approach to writing, so we used the latest and greatest technology and spoke over the phone. Here are some of his initial thoughts. “The suspension is definitely an improvement but not a dramatic change in performance. It’s easier to use in terms of set-up, with brake support, acceleration support and mid-corner support all readily changeable via the fresh interface on the R1M’s dash. But yes, the dynamic upgrade is subtle. “As before, the quickshifter is sharp and responsive. The blipper is smooth, although I wasn’t the only rider who suffered with missed blips/changes from second gear to first. Then again, that could be down to a clumsy boot operation or the throttle not being 100% closed. “It is not available for retro fitting to ‘15/16/17 models. Despite the system being physically able to accept the ‘blipper, you’ll need to change the wiring harness, dash and ECU, so it’s hardly worth it anyway. Also worth noting on the ‘blipper, it makes an awesome noise on downshifting. There’s an aggressive soundtrack to accompany the crossplane noise. “Riding characteristics remain largely the same as before. There’s no power increase, as nothing inside the engine has changed, and it’s the same with braking, sadly. There’s still a somewhat distant feeling but still a very complete motorcycle.” And what of the updated LIF system, Lord Cuntybollox? “Well Al, I’m glad you asked. It’s not as violent as before, not as intrusive, and the bike feels more natural throughout a lap. Portimao is the ultimate test for electronics and anti-wheelie systems, and the LIF proved handy in some areas – especially over the start/finish straight’s crest. We were advised to keep it pinned to allow the system to function properly, rather than modulate the throttle and upset the bike. I still found it easier to manually control wheelies in certain areas of the track but this is an improvement.” There was also a stock R1 and a GYTR (Genuine Yamaha Technology Racing, not anything to do with Great Yarmouth) kitted bike with 215bhp and a feast of other bolt-ons now available for public consumption. Video dropping soon… Share the love:
  14. You’ve probably heard murmurings from last weekend’s Ducati Panigale V4 world press launch in Valencia, although you probably haven’t heard about a few of us taking some rental bikes (Valencia’s equivalent of Boris Bikes) and riding them down steps and swapping brake cables and basically imitating Mat Hoffman. Anyway, I digress. Rarely has a brand-new motorcycle received such unanimous praise and consequent torrent of superlatives, and its sexy Italian lineage, £24,000 price tag and enough in the electronics suite to worry a high street store have nothing to do with it. Honda’s original FireBlade. The 1998 Yamaha R1. Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 K5. The original BMW S 1000 RR. Every now and then, a bike will come along and raise the imaginary bar. Sure, the Panigale V4 still has two wheels and nothing truly innovative is mentioned in its tech spec, but there’s something intrinsically special about the Panigale V4, therefore deserving bar-raising status of the aforementioned quartet. Yes. It really is that special. Does it boil your spuds like the 1299? Difficult to confirm, as we didn’t encounter any urban environments on the launch and my spuds felt all warm and lovely, but never seared. Hopefully we answered most of your questions in this video, although I get round to replying to some of the more obscure enquiries. Sit back, relax and enjoy our Ducati Panigale V4 Review [embedded content] Share the love:
  15. 2018 KTM RC 390 R

    Just when we thought the influx of 2018 machinery had dried up, KTM has – this morning – unveiled a naughty little number in the shape of an RC 390 R. This limited-edition homologation special has been released to compete at the sharp end of the booming SSP300 class and restricted to just 500 units. Fully adjustable WP suspension separates the R model from the stock RC 390 (rather than the very crude bouncers), along with hardware updates, a shorter intake trumpet for a wider spread of power, CNC race levers and a new top yoke and handlebar kit to allow for racier ergonomics. The RC chassis has always been a belter, so Gucci suspension will no doubt take handling to another level. There’s also an SSP300 Race Kit, which features over 230 bolt-on goodies to go racing, including that stunning Akrapovic EVO02 exhaust, Race ECU, quickshifter, STM slipper clutch, plus everything you need to go racing for a season. The bad news? The 2018 KTM RC 390 R itself will cost €8,500, while the race kit will set you back €11,000. And, according to KTM, the kit cannot be retrospectively fitted to older RC models. Still, this could spark a new wave of fresh homologation lightweights from other manufacturers, which would be peng, especially given the success of SSP300 racing across the globe and British Superbikes launching their very own SSP300 support class in 2018. Share the love:
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