Bikes in Bangkok
The Bangkok International Motor show 2007 also has
a separate section for motorcycles. Knowing that fair number of car
enthusiasts have a more than passing interest in motorcycles, and
another fair number of motorcycle enthusiasts read this column, I
asked my motorcycle mate Alan Coates to cover the bikes. Here is his
In general, the major Japanese and German manufactures presented a
very different line-up of motorcycles from last year. Gone were the
mega muscle bikes and monster engined cruisers of last year and also
missing entirely was a presentation from the local Tiger concern.
Concept Motorcycle. For my money, star of the show was the mouth
watering concept machine shown centre stage by Suzuki. This had a
six cylinder engine across the frame, a very neat six into one
exhaust system with a tiny silencer. Styled in a manner reminiscent
of the Suzuki Katana’s of the 80’s this version had ABS among the
more obvious features. Capacity, at least 1,000 cc, but likely to be
1300 cc to replace the aging Hyabusa in the Suzuki range.
GSX-R1000 - Sport. Suzuki’s most popular sports bike. Suzuki has
never made a bad GSX-R1000, their flagship superbike, and they still
haven’t. The GSX-R’s advanced fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, 16-valve
four-cylinder engine provides class leading power, up 7 bhp to 185
bhp and it’s reported to now be even easier to handle than ever.
Three engine power settings are available at the flick of a switch
for any road conditions. Twin pipes mean greater balance and lower
centre of gravity, whilst adjustable pegs create a better riding
position. To help the chassis control the massive amount of power on
tap, the GSX-R1000 features an integral steering damper as standard.
There are the usual popular accessories available as optional
FZ1 Fazer 1000 cc - All Rounder. The engine powering the Fazer is
from their R1, which is 1000cc liquid cooled 4-cylinder. Yamaha
market this machine as an all rounder, capable of going to work –
and back journeys as well as distance touring. With a power output
of 110 kW at 11,000 rpm the Fazer is certainly powerful enough to
also be termed a performance sports bike. Maximum torque is
delivered at 8,000 rpm suggesting that this motor needs to be revved
hard for best performance. Yamaha’s website indicates a mini-fairing
/ screen is available as an optional extra, a very necessary option
for any kind of high speed touring. Other optional extras are
plentiful and include ABS.
FJR 1300 Tourer. Yamaha’s flagship tourer for some time now and is
relatively unchanged for 2007. The same engine configuration (liquid
cooled, 4 cylinder) is in line with Yamahas practice. Features that
are appropriate for a big capacity, long distance tourer include an
adjustable screen, ABS brakes, heated handlebars (well, not in
Thailand) and generous panniers. A large capacity top box is an
optional extra. The big motor does not need the same number of gears
and a five speed box is fitted. Shaft drive is a definite plus and
the tank has a useful 25 litre capacity.
YZF-R1 Sports. Yamaha market the R1 with “State Of The Art Race
Technology”. The latest R1 is packed with technology inspired by the
YZR-M1 MotoGP bike plus the all-new YCC-I system (Yamaha Chip
Controlled - Intake) air funnels for more performance across the rev
range. It also has Yamaha Chip Controlled – Throttle, utilizing
state-of-the-art electronics. Also new for 2007 is a new 16-valve
engine, a brand-new Deltabox frame and new bodywork. All of this
means that the R1 is turned out with many race bred enhancements, a
power output of 180 bhp, 6-pot callipers up front to control
retardation and a slipper clutch to avoid locking up the rear end
under quick downshifts and hard braking.
Vulcan 900 Custom. The largest custom cruiser at the show this year.
Kawasaki has taken the tried and tested VN900 Classic and made a
full-on custom bike for those who desire the chopper-inspired
stripped-down look. Significant changes include a retro-style
muffler that meets 21st century regulations while looking good with
lots of chrome. Also changed to enhance the “chopper” image is the
21 inch front wheel. Technical specifications remain unchanged and
the 903 cc V-twin 4-stroke engine churns out 40kW at 6,000 rpm.
Ninja ZX-6R. An all-new engine; an all-new chassis; race-driven
parts. These are some of the key features of the new Kawasaki Ninja
ZX-6R. This machine is designed and engineered in an attempt to
produce the best ever supersports Ninja for the 600cc class. The
focus is for an all-new 599cc model built to dominate the race
track. Apparently, the Ninja ZX-6R’s all-new ultra-high-rpm engine
with polished intake ports churns out more mid-range torque than its
predecessors. The result is a nice fat power band with a linear
power curve, for hard-hitting acceleration across the rev range.
They claim that no other machine revs higher than the new Ninja
ZX-6R. Chassis development has focused on a compact, lightweight
package to give high corner speeds and controllability. To this end
radial mounted brakes are fitted as is a slipper clutch. Front and
rear suspension settings are fully adjustable.
(Thank you Alan, for that very detailed report. The second half of
Bikes in Bangkok will be published next week. Dr. Iain)
Last week I asked how much the Jaguar XJ 3.4 could be
purchased ex-works for in 1978? To the nearest thousand pounds would have been
fine! It was 8,174 pounds.
So to this week. Hill climbing is a very specialized sport, in which one cannot
make any mistakes, as you are racing against the clock, rather than other
competitors. The first driver to be killed in practice for a hill climb was in
1900. The first driver to be killed during a hill climb was in 1903, and both
were at the same venue. What was this course? Clue: Chitty Chitty Bang Bangs!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Next GP in two weeks
It seems a long time since the Bahrain GP, but for most of the teams, they need
this extra development time. Teams such as Honda Racing look like they are going
to need two years, not two weeks to try and produce a competitive car. 2007 is
yet another year’s F1 championship that will elude Jenson Button, I’m afraid.
Being the Spanish GP, there will be extra pressure on current world champion
Fernando Alonso to perform, even more than Ron Dennis will have been applying.
In front of his own countrymen, Alonso has much to lose, and not just to
Ferrari, but to his tyro team mate Lewis Hamilton.
When will Hamilton win his first GP? I will predict it will be Monaco! He is not
fazed by circuits. He is fast and accurate and not prone to lapses of
concentration. But no, I’m not putting money on it. I’ve been involved in motor
racing too long to fall for that one.
Red Bull will have spent the past two weeks trying how to keep the fuel filler
flap closed. This item has come open three times in three GPs, and Mr Webber is
getting a trifle testy about it. Unfortunately these vehicles are so susceptible
to aerodynamic factors, that when the filler flap opens it destroys the air flow
over the rear wing, and the increased ‘drag’ factor knocks the top speed down.
Ferrari will also have been doing their homework, with much of it at their own
private test track. They will not be coming to Spain with experimental parts,
hoping that they will work. This is one of the reasons why Ferrari have
incredibly good reliability. They have tested every part of the car and know its
‘life’. They did admit they have several new items to try, and they will all
have been tried and tested before arriving at the Circuit of Catalunya in Spain.
The main race starts at 7 p.m. our time.
BMW introduces energy saving technology
The new BMW 1 Series is the most fuel efficient production vehicle BMW has ever
produced. This has been achieved through technologies such as Brake Energy
Regeneration, Automatic Start-Stop function and Electric Power Steering combined
with lower rolling resistant tyres and a gearshift change indicator to encourage
BMW 1 Series
The BMW 118d (“d” stands for diesel) records 60.1 mpg figure courtesy of these
features in conjunction with the use of further lightweight engineering. The car
now even has an aluminium crankcase to save weight.
Brake Energy Regeneration (iGR) makes its debut on the 1 Series. This system
uses an Intelligent Alternator Control (IAC) and an Absorbent Glass Mat battery
to recycle previously lost energy, in turn saving fuel. This is achieved as the
IAC reduces drag on the engine by only engaging when required to charge the
battery, where a traditional alternator is always pulling power from the engine.
Additionally, the energy generated by the engine on over-run (under braking or
descending a hill) is utilized by the IAC to charge the battery. iGR alone is
responsible for a three percent improvement in fuel economy.
The Automatic Start-Stop function also cuts fuel consumption. The system
automatically switches the engine off when the vehicle is stationary and the
driver puts the car into neutral. To restart the driver only need engage the
clutch again before pulling away in the normal manner. If this sounds like a
hassle, BMW supply a switch so you can turn it off!
Electric Power Steering results in a 90 percent energy saving compared to a
conventional mechanical hydraulic steering system. Power assistance is now
provided by an electric motor that works only when required, such as turning a
Unfortunately, all these fuel saving (and running-cost saving) technologies cost
more money at the point of purchase. There’s still no free lunch!