Automania

Big Bikes

BMW K1200 R

The overall impression from the Bangkok International Motor Show was that motorcycles are getting larger, their exhaust systems are becoming less of a visual feature, and if it falls off the side-stand, you will need a sky hook to get it upright.

Expat big bike enthusiast Alan Coates prepared a few details on some of the big bikes that caught his eye.

BMW K1200 R 163 BHP (120kW) 1157 c.c. water cooled in line 4 cylinder 4-stroke (new engine, gearbox and drive-shaft). Over 200 kph for only 970,000 baht.

Suzuki Intruder

Suzuki Intruder M109R 1800 cc Custom Cruiser (in the H-D Mode). Note M109 stands for 109 cubic inches engine capacity. Weight 315 kg (695 lbs.) 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 2-cylinder, DOHC, 4-valve, 54 degree V-Twin.

Honda Fireblade CBR 1000RR Supersports 998cc. Inline 4 Cylinder, Liquid-cooled 4-stroke, 16-valve DOHC. 170 bhp at 11,250 rpm Note: Underseat exhaust and silencer almost vanished! “The new force to be reckoned with on roads and the circuit.”

Honda Fireblade

Yamaha Roadliner S Custom Cruiser (Midnight Star in Europe) V-twin, 4-stroke 1,854 cc with a compression ratio of 9.48:1 giving 73.60 kW (100 BHP) @ 4,250 rpm Dry weight is 320 kg. “The XV1900 Midnight Star is a rolling work of art, a moving masterpiece, a vision of power and speed, elegance and beauty. The XV1900 remodels the classic streamliner look for the 21st century with flared fenders, teardrop fuel tank, sweptback handlebar mounts and spurred swingarm. And this mega-cruiser sets new standards in high-class design, craftsmanship and quality of finish, with the kind of painstaking attention to detail never seen before in the cruiser class. At its heart is a mighty low-revving, high-torque 1854 cc air-cooled, eight-valve V-twin engine and long ’n’ low aluminium frame and swingarm – at once totally traditional and ultra-modern. XV1900 Midnight Star – the cruiser that will leave you stirred, not shaken.”

Yamaha Roadliner

Yamaha MT-01 Muscle Bike. 1670 cc 4-stroke, V-Twin engine, OHV, 4 valves per cylinder Air cooled with a relatively low compression ratio of 8.36:1 giving 66.3kW (90 HP) @ only 4,750rpm. But the grunt is enormous. The MT-01 is the bike that started the Torque Sports revolution. This motorcycle is like nothing you’ve ever known before – an air-cooled 1670 cc V-twin that rocks like a sports bike. The MT-01 is a revolutionary motorcycle, with a soulbeat character that unleashes maximum torque at 3,750 rpm, when most engines are still half asleep. That’s the whole idea of Torque Sports – mega-thrust is right there, the instant you grab the throttle. And this mega-capacity, long-stroke engine is bolted into an aluminium supersport-derived frame with R1-style truss swingarm, 43 mm upside-down forks, low-slung rear shock, radial-mounted calipers and a uniquely chiselled, radical design.

Yamaha MT 01 Muscle

Kawasaki VN 900 Classic Cruiser. The smallest in this range of H-D look-a-likes that includes a 1,600 cc and a monster 2,000 cc model. Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke V-Twin, 903 cc giving 40 kW at 6,000 rpm. “Long, low and ready to cruise, the VN900’s styling is evocative of the VN2000. This effect is further enhanced by the voluminous engine design, the attention to detail and the craftsmanship evident in the seductive, hand-sculpted bodywork. Like the VN2000, the 900 Classic has a quiet and efficient belt final drive. In addition to reduced maintenance (compared to chain final drives), belt drives offer a smoother ride quality than shaft drives.”

Kawasaki VN 900


The “real” Car of the Show

Bentley Continental GT

Forget about the fact that “Bentley” as a marque is owned by VW. Forget about the fact that W.O. Bentley, the founder, did not like forced induction engines. Just look at the specifications of this motor car and it is difficult not to be impressed with this very British sporting carriage.

To just add that extra British flavor, on the Bentley stand was your archetypal Englishman, James Barclay, complete with very British three button suit. James is the PR and Event Manager for SE Asia and Australasia for Bentley, and was a walking front of knowledge on his cars. I fully realize that many visitors to the show enjoy the bevy of young things on the stands, dressed in skimpy and ridiculous plastic outfits, mouthing the specifications and regurgitating PR handouts, but I am afraid I go to the show to learn about the vehicles, from people who know something about them. James Barclay is one of these.

James was quick to point out that the Bentley was designed, built and engineered at the one site at Crewe in England. There Bentley has some third generation Bentley employees, lovingly making the interiors in their own wood and leather shops. Incidentally, the hides come from a special farm in Austria, where there are no barbed wire fences, and 12 are used inside one Continental GT. The cars are hand assembled, and it takes two shifts, just to hand stitch the steering wheel. James assured me that the only robots used in the assembly of a car set the windscreen in place and look to engine sealing. The rest is the labor of love by real human beings.

The Continental GT and its four door cousin, the Continental Flying Spur, are very impressive vehicles, just sitting there, but the performance of the GT is just staggering. The 12 cylinder engine develops 552 bhp (411 kW) and generates 479 ft.lbs of torque (650 Nm) at 1,600 rpm, barely past tick-over. That power and torque is enough to propel the Continental GT to 198 mph (318 km/h), and cover 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds. When I expressed wonder at the quoted 198 mph, James replied, “This is an overengineered product. They can do 200 mph, and they have the largest brakes in the class.” And he says it with such authority, you just have to believe him.

You become aware of the history of the marque, running from 1920 with the first 3 liter Bentleys, then through many troubled years financially, but ones where they still produced exemplary sporting carriages, up until the re-birth, in many ways, in the late 1990’s. James says, “We keep one eye on the heritage and one eye towards the future.” The Bentley Continental GT, the Continental Flying Spur, and the soon to be released Continental GTC (convertible) do all that.

At 21 million baht for the Continental GT, this buys you a hefty slice of history, as well as a hefty performance car. I could live with the Continental GT, unfortunately, the piggy bank does not run to such stratospheric numbers!


Car of the Show?

Wuling Scorpion

Once again, I have to hand it too PVA Motors for bringing the incredibly cheap Wuling Scorpion to the Bangkok International Motor Show. This little work-horse now has a five speed gearbox and disc brakes at the front, and still only costs 275,000 baht! You can adapt it to many body styles, depending upon your needs, from a product carrier to a people carrier to a mobile retailing stand. If you want to contact them about the Wuling Scorpion the contact number is 07 293 8370, and you can even get finance on it!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned many vehicles featuring in-wheel motors at the Bangkok International Motor Show this year. This is no innovation however. I asked who was first with this idea? The answer was Dr. Ferdinand Porsche in the Lohner-Porsche of 1902.
So to this week. Which motor vehicle manufacturer was bought by the British Central Equitable Trust – and why?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] Good luck!