Tag Archives: Bikes

Flat tracker or cafe racer?

As you will know my Brit bike preference pretty much goes Triumph>BSA>Norton (oh no, where does Vincent fit in?) but with new Norton Commandos  being produced it was time to fight back 30-year-old prejudices. The 961 Cafe Racer looks OK (but not in yellow and the rear seat unit still looks too heavy, even “bulbous” – Suzuki TL1000R or Hayabusa). Would you spend £13.5 k on it? You would need to have a test ride but I fear sentiment and patriotism will deliver old boys of my age to the showroom before 0-60 figures or aesthetics: 

 

 

 No my Norton is being built, again in small numbers, a long way west of Birmingham – at Colorado Norton Works. The model 38 in particular combines visual cues from American flat trackers and Brit cafe racers successfully, imho. and any bike with flat bars, an alloy tank and single clubmans seat gets my attention… 

 

  

You don’t get the Keihn flat slide carbs from the show bike, but fuel injection and a lot of engine work. Front 4 leading shoe drum brakes on the first bike will be replaced with a disc (shame!).  There are only going to be 12,  at (gasp) $39,500.00 each and getting it back from the Rocky Mountains could be fun, but wouldn’t you want one?

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Guzzi Cafe Racers

Moto Guzzi retro – an ongoing fascination which has yet to result in a project bike in my garage, but it is only a matter of time…

From Firestarter Garage – the Zero

and a V11:

modern Guzzi cafe racer/streetfighter, also from Firestarter

and this what I am after – shiny 🙂 

Smarter, faster, younger

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It is with some quiet satisfaction I report that a Japanese study (admittedly sponsored by Yamaha) led by the nueroscientist behind Nintendo DS Brain Training, Ryuta  Kawashima, has tested a number of middle aged men who after returning to motorcycling  saw improvements in memory, information processing and concentration functions. 

The riders said they made fewer mistakes at work and felt happier.

Kawashima said “Our final conclusion is that riding motorcycles can lead to smart ageing.” So can I get some tax breaks on my health plan that involves more motorcycling?

Also in the comments on Hell for Leather– “you don’t stop riding because you get old, you get old because you stop riding”

and another cafe racer image for the fans out there – Ala Verda – Norton Commando engine, Laverda frame:

MotoGP could be exciting once more

Amongst my reading of learned journals  – “Coach and Bus Weekly” , “Treehugger Monthly”, “Economics World”, “Which Behaviour” – I await the delivery of Performance Bike  magazine each month with great anticipation. They tell me that the new Suzuki GSXR 1000  (“The ultimate evolution of the GSX-R family. Born to be on the track.”) beats the Honda Fireblade (“Stronger Looks. Sharper Performance. Astoundingly Responsive Control.” ) by 0.1 secs. in perfect conditions on a test track. Great.

In Bike magazine, amidst the 600cc race replica shootouts and after a foray into alternative fuels last year ( a Triumph 675 fuelled by apples!) Rupert Paul writes this month about how we could make racing fun again and get great bikes for the next three generations. After describing his vision of the 2016 Estoril GP, with a wide range of competing fuels – methanol, bio-ethanol, batteries, LPG, solar, fuel cell, etc. – he says:

“this is what racing could be like – a feast of competing technologies not seen since the 1920s. All it would take is one rule: to limit every machine to a fixed amount of start-line energy” 

This view of the near future is prompted by a paper by Turner and Pearson of Lotus Engineering, home of the Exige 270E Tri-fuel. They recognise that current racing regs, particularly F1, do not encourage fuel savings or alt tech (or social responsibility). If racing really does improve the breed and we get trickle-down then let it lead the charge to new technology. 

The TTXGP at 2009’s Isle of Man TT should be the first opportunity to test the theory… hopefully I will be there.

The paper, “The Application of Energy-Based Fuel Formulae to Increase the Efficiency Relevance and Reduce the CO2 Emissions of Motor Sport”, is available from SAE.

Why stop at racing – if all new vehicles had a inception and lifetime energy limit, based on a common megajoule measure, then manufacturers would rethink their fuel strategies pretty quick.

Wacky invention or future of transport?

Through Gizmodo amd Motorcycle Mojo found this unicycle/motorcycle hybrid, the Uno, recently shown at the Toronto Bike show. The inventor is a bright 18year old Canadian guy called Ben J. Poss Gulak who put the bike together without any big company R&D funds. It is two wheeled, with both wheels side by side, steered totally by moving your body weight around and gyro sensors, with electric battery power. Underneath the bodywork is extensively rebuilt Yamaha RI frame.

As a toy and a stunt show special fine but wouldn’t the perceived instability would put off both existing bikers and car drivers – maybe Segway owners would see it as a next step up from their machines? So its niche, but still glad someone has done it (and I would certainly have a go on one if it enters full production).

Getting Lost

Cheap SatNav

I have had decent sat nav for 6 months now and today instead used a road atlas to enjoy a retro moment – finding my way around several bike dealers within 100 miles of my house. So what did we learn?

  • there are some interesting back roads in Buckinghamshire, some muddy and infested with tractors
  • with road atlas scales size does matter – no more than 3 miles to one inch
  • as does being up to date – if you buy a 2008 titled atlas it was issued in August 2007 and based only on the roads known to man (and the O/S) some months earlier – although with the lack of investment in new roads you shouldn’t get caught out too often…

As a geographer and a map anorak but also a gadget fan this fundamental dichotomy causes me sleepless nights 🙂 

And the holy grail was found north of Aylesbury:

Aprilia Tuono 2008

Passengers wanted

The first Motorway High Occupancy Vehicles Lane launched today by Ruth Kelly, following considerable buildup. There have been HOV lanes before in the UK, notably in and around Bristol, but this is perhaps the first high level commitment to the concept. Whether saving 6 – 8 minutes per morning commute is enough to get commuters to car share is questionable, but for existing car sharers, buses, etc. will get them into the HOV lane and release some capacity for the rest. The better use of existing assets is very much the flavour of the month with government and HA, but of course without medium to long term substantial behaviour change we are only buying time at huge expense (green points made, now back to normal service)

Nice touch – “motorcyclists will also be able to use it whether carrying passengers or not”

(And have a look at the M606 review on “pathetic Motorways” – one of my favourite sites!)