Last week I asked whether you listen to the radio on the way to work? What was
the first British car to offer such an option? And when? The answer was the
Crossley in 1933.
So to this week, and an easy one. When were curved windscreens first used?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Sports 1 liter
The main contenders are without surprise, Honda’s Fireblade,
Kawasaki’s ZX1000 and Yamaha’s R1. Suzuki showed only the GSXR750, not the
flagship 1 liter version.
Honda, for whatever reason showcased a Fireblade not being the latest model,
i.e., without the fly by wire braking, the “combined” ABS (C-ABS) as it is
known. When Motor Cycle News (MCN) UK tested the new ABS system on the latest
Fireblade they were ecstatic on its assistance to the rider under adverse
braking conditions; i.e., wet / sandy or other treacherous conditions. Under
normal braking the ABS does not operate, but under heavy braking it balances
front and rear braking seamlessly for best effect allowing the rider to stay in
control. In a second test MCN found an improvement in stopping distance of 14
meters in the wet from 80 mph compared to a non C-ABS equipped bike.
So, no vote for Honda but if you are in the market for a new Fireblade, do wait
until you can get the C-ABS model.
Kawasaki showed the new for 2009 color schemes for the Ninja range by painting a
ZX10R in sections. The ZX10R will be available in the traditional fluorescent
green, ebony black or pearl stardust white. The underseat exhaust system has
gone and been replaced by a regular dustbin sized silencer on the offside.
Kawasaki had very little success with its flagship sports bike in any series of
racing in the 2008 season, so not much was learned, I guess, to pass onto the
road going machines. Kawasaki is probably more cash-strapped than others for
development funds and indeed have already pulled out of MotoGP for 2009. So, no
vote for the ZX10R.
The YZF-R1 is closely linked to Yamaha’s MotoGP winning M1. For 2009 it is
equipped with an all-new 998cc inline four-cylinder engine with a crossplane
crankshaft that runs with an uneven firing interval of 270º - 180º - 90º - 180º.
This innovative new design ensures superb throttle linearity, allegedly giving a
feeling that the rider’s throttle hand is directly connected to the rear tyre.
The new engine feels and sounds smoother than ever, and emits an unforgettable
growl from the exhaust. Pushing out 182 PS at 12,500 rpm with 115.5 Nm of torque
at 10,000 rpm, this engine is the most technologically advanced powerplant from
Yamaha. In addition, the Deltabox chassis is also new giving a better balance
between rigidity and flexibility. So my award goes to Yamaha’s YZF-R1.
Electric cars can go the distance
Tesla shows its electric sports car goes the distance in Rallye
Monte Carlo for Alternative Energies.
The American has set an unofficial record for the longest electric vehicle
run with its Roadster. This was the first round of the FIA Alternative
Energies Cup and covered a 390 km drive through France.
With its recharging outlet sealed by officials the Tesla Roadster was able
to cover the course from Valence, France to Monaco. The course took in
highway driving, two-lane back roads and even mountain passes so speeds
varied from 30 km/h up to 100 km/h.
Aside from toilet stops, the Tesla - driven by Australian Rudi Tuisk who is
a part of the company’s European operation - the car not only went the
entire distance but still had a further 61 km of range left in the batteries
when it reached the end. Former F1 grand prix winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen
drove the car during the night special stage.
Tesla is now waiting for the FIA authorities to verify the time and
establish it as an official record for an electric car on a single charge.
It is also awaiting official confirmation that the car averaged 45 km/h for
Honda showed the EVO6 concept machine, designated as a 6
cylinder, 6 speed automatic Sports Cruiser. The power-plant has been derived
from the Gold Wing model and is 1850 cc capacity with chain drive and twin
gas shocks at the rear. It looks surprisingly small and the exhaust plumbing
(six into three stubs) was a joy to the eye. However, I suspect that ground
clearance on cornering might be compromised.
Overall, with ABS in place it did look the part. It will be interesting to
see if it follows the successful route from concept to production relatively
un-changed, as did Suzuki’s B-King machine over a three year period.
Undoubtedly the main contenders were from Chinese exhibitor
Zongshen Ryuka. It was difficult to choose between the bikes on their stand
but the crudeness of the ZS125-50 shone through. This unbelievably low
powered, over weight, dull and “messy” looking machine finally took this
category. Think, “unable to pull the skin off a rice pudding” and you will
have some concept of its performance.
Bummer for Hummer?
GM says a decision on the future of its Hummer SUV brand will be
made within weeks But the US industry says the decision on whether sell or
fold Hummer, which GM revealed had been “under strategic review” as early as
last June, won’t be known for at least two more weeks.
It is understood the divestment of both Hummer and GM’s Swedish brand, Saab,
were key parts of GM’s survival plan. The world’s former number-one
auto-maker has been given a further 60 days to come up with a more
convincing restructuring plan by the Obama administration.
“Our efforts to sell Hummer are proceeding and there are several parties
interested - and I would say really interested - in the brand,” said the GM
spokesman. But no money on the table - yet.
Honda presented the CB1100R as a production prototype; modern
technology for an already classic model and one that is already in demand
having been widely exhibited elsewhere.
However, my eye was taken on the Tiger stand by the classic lines of their
little TT150 retro machine looking like an old time TT Lightweight racer
from the Isle of Man TT in the 1960’s. Indeed, the designer, to whom I spoke
declared that was his design intent, to emulate features of the racing MV
Augustas, Gileras and Ducatis of that era.
In my opinion he has succeeded with the tank and seat lines of the TT150,
the cradle frame and the chromed guards; a pleasure to behold.
As predicted in the report from the 2008 Motor Show, the Honda
“Sports Tourer” DN-01 has not sold well. Those having to ride them all
castigate Honda for fitting the “wrong” engine, a meager 640 cc, to a
machine weighing in at 270 kg dry. The result of which is an underpowered,
overweight sluggard. Many also slate the concept of this machine. So it’s a
unanimous vote for the DN-01 as the most unloved, and I would predict major
changes if indeed it even stays in Honda’s line-up.
This had to be the three wheeled Spyder import from Canada.
Notable features are the 1 litre motorcycle power plant by BRP-Rotax driving
the single rear wheel. The front end is typical car setup but steered by
handlebars. With 110 BHP hauling a mere 317 kg a 4.3 second 0 to 100km/hr is
no surprise. Big bike performance with less risk of falling off comes at the
hefty price of 1.6 million baht.