Tag Archives: Motorcycle

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?

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.

“Motorcycles finally go green” – really?

Wired Autoblog closes the year with a roundup of the half a dozen green bike orientated stories it has already run. No “new” news but OK as an intro to the subject. The article and comments pickup on the difference (for existing bikes) between good fuel economy – tick – and low pollution – uh, not really. As my Aprilia hardly gets 30mpg and 120 miles on a tank I am not even sure on the first point…

The more discussion the better, but I can’t see a lot more R&D money going into it in the next few years unless battery technology really changes.

PS why? – as usual the US comments have their kicks at the liberals and big government, or hit back at the failure of free markets – is every blog post on any topic grist to the mill for this poorly thought out rhetoric? Play nicely, children…

Cafe racers, cardboard scooters and hybrids

A few images and stories to get my blog back into the biker esoterica:

The Suzuki Crosscage concept bike from 2007 uses hybrid electric hydrogen fuel cell motor and is now a working prototype. Single-sided swing-arm and front fork, superlight and fast enough 100mph speed limited. Just need to perfect the fuel cell technology – nothing on Suzuki’s website to suggest its anywhere near production. (Story from Hell for Leather originally, YouTube video here).

Another YouTube video this time of the NONOBJECT nUCLEUS. Conceptual, yes, insane, yes…

Still no word from the Stonebridge Motor Company or Nick Gale as to when or if their Ace Cafe racer, Little Miss Dynamite, launched in June, will be on sale. With an S&S V twin, plus a featherbed style frame, alloy tank, interesting exhaust plumbing I would be counting out my pools winning  to get an order in…

Click the images for the full picture.

Chris Gilmour, Brit artist based in northern Italy,  uses only cardboard and glue to make his life size sculptures/ models and the artworld loves them.

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).

low cost cars – the global challenge

I found this interesting Business Week article on the development of really cheap cars by chance, but it raises some fundamental questions, albeit from an American perspective:

Link

Some further thoughts:

  • the comparison with no frill airlines and cheap clothes retailers (H&M, etc) is right in this context – if the western consumers can go low cost the emerging markets can start at low cost and the global market for very cheap products increases
  • Imagine a $2,500 (£1,250) car’s impact on developing countries traffic levels, when India and China’s emerging middle and upper working class can join in (or as the article suggests we are already seeing a $7,000 car impacting on poorer populations in eastern Europe and increasingly on the west…like the Dacia/Renaut Logan)
  • You can hear the complaint from the emerging nations – “why shouldn’t we have personal individual mobility like you have had for the last 100 years, to cover for your guilt about environmental damage and climate change” (Thanks, Gottfried Daimler, btw)
  • From my personal perspective I muse – what does this do to the motorcycle and scooter market – will Japanese, Korean, even the Chinese and Indian manufacturers who are currently growing, go the way of Triumph, BSA, Ariel – all world dominating businesses when a motorcycle was the first step on the mobility ladder. Better go for plan b, Honda… and dont even start to think about what China’s bicycle manufacturers will turn to next (the usual reference point in discussions about developing countries and cars)
  • I recall a similar article in Car magazine some 15 years ago and its predictions certainly came true – your European car is likely to be assembled anywhere labour is cheap (uh…Derby, Sunderland, Swindon? OK, but point taken) out of bits from Brazil, Indonesia and for all I know Chad, and finally discounted to get the metal out of the the fields near the ports and onto your drive
  • can a developing world cheap car achieve the same role in society again as the original VW, Fiat Cinquecento, Citroen 2CV or even Mini – and will these new ugly boxes on wheels become anti-fashion statements – they may become the first teenage car of choice for cash strapped parents, but I can’t see the Chery, Geely, Great Wall Motor, Nanjing, Hafei, Zhongxing, or Brilliance China (all rising Chinese brands) capturing the Fiesta, Saxo or Corsa market.

Camera fines not going back to the Treasury – shock!

From the cash generated from fines on bus lane enforcement cameras in Reading, up to £10,000 per month is going to be made available for new Readibus services. Good for once to see the linkages working, where transport money stays in transport.

The enforcement cameras came into play in September last year and apart from initial press excitement seem to be doing their job. Of course the fines income will probably reduce over time as people learn that they will get nicked, but as it helps the least mobile in the town its almost a charity – maybe I should run through the bus lanes a few times to aid this good cause!

Actually as a motorcyclist Reading has always been enlightened about powered two wheelers (as we now have to call them) using bus lanes and government is coming around to less antagonistic view – see the latest DfT guidance.

Disclosure: PBA works for Reading Borough Council

Its a small step

OK moving from testing the blog privately to making it more widely available.

Finally got around to read some of the critiques of the Stern Report, its hard not to be suspicious of the reaction of the experts wheeled out to say we can survive with “business as usual” – not surprisingly he responds in the FT…”This review is offered as a contribution to the discussion, not as a final word”

All of which won’t help me reduce my carbon foot print, two round trips to Brighton on Friday and Saturday, one work, one to return Jessica to Sussex Uni in time for Swedenmademe

and the Buell hasn’t been out of the garage for two weeks, which at 25 mpg is probably good for the planet