Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Bikes at BIMS

The Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS) in March-April this year is a showcase for motorcycles as well as cars, and I was fortunate again that accredited motorcycle journalist Alan Coates was in Bangkok and sent in the following report.


BMW: I was personally disappointed that my current UK ‘bike, the F800ST was not amongst those exhibited.

BMW F800R: The F800R while new and different it does use the same 798cc parallel twin engine that has been around for at least 5 years in various other models. BMW’s claim that the fuel injected 798cc parallel twin is state-of-the-art is dated. 64 kw at 8,000 rpm from this engine and 86 Nm of torque give an impressive performance.

Brakes are 320-millimetre Brembo double disc at the front while optional BMW ABS and Tyre Pressure Control are available. Dry weight is down to just 177 kilograms. The suspension set-up and a fuel tank located under the seat aid a lower centre of gravity.

BMW S 1000RR: This is a genuine superbike, designed for the race track where it is performing very well. On the road, a comparison test by UK’s Motorcycle News (MCN) had the BMW as overall class leader.

Electric Honda

Power output is 142 kw at 13,000 rpm and a combination of optional electronic rider assistance systems is available. In particular, racing ABS and dynamic traction control (DTC), which adjusts engine torque to the current level of grip, ensures optimum traction out of every corner.

BMW F650GS: The BMW F 650 GS is categorized as an all–rounder, being small and lightweight compared to the normal image of a BMW. With a water-cooled (and detuned) 798cc parallel twin-cylinder engine, the 52 kw is not too meager for 179 kg dry weight. BMW also offer a reduced power version (25kw) intended for beginners.

BMW R1200RT: The “Boxer” twin BMW R1200RT has been around for some time, allegedly long-journey: comfort, practicality and speed is good for a tourer. 81 kw to haul a dry weight of 230 kg (495 kg maximum permitted weight) is adequate but falls short of the absent K1300GT performance. You really have to be a fan of the flat twin to buy one since there are so many more viable alternatives in the marketplace.

BMW R1200GS Adventure: One wonders how many of these tall, heavy off roaders are sold in Thailand to the native populace? Few I would guess, most purchasers coming from the Germanic ex-pats section of the residents. Indeed, a striking leg length and substantial frame are required to haul/hang on to these monsters. Not for the vertically challenged.

Power is plenty at 81 kw from the uprated twin double overhead cam boxer engine and the luggage system (three cavernous aluminium boxes) allows the rider to carry the kitchen sink when necessary.

DIRTSHOP: Three notable street fighters plus a race bike were on Dirtshop’s stand and on sale were appropriate clothing and accessories. The awesome Ducati 1099 cc Streetfighter (167 kg and 114 kw) has the highest power to weight ratio and it was Triumph’s latest 675 cc Street Triple R (78 kw and some 189 kg) on show. The KTM 990 Duke (88 kw and 186 kg) looked impressive.

HONDA: Honda’s theme for the show was “It’s a fun thing to ride a Honda!” Their display included scooters and step-thru’s of all the pastel colors and patterns imaginable. The idea being, seemingly, it’s fun to change your bike or scooter for a different color, the same as you change your shirt or phone cover.

EV Cub: The future of motorcycling was shown with the Fuel Free EV Cub, both wheels driven by electric hub motors complimented by a slim, uncluttered frame and cycle parts. Will it catch on? Eventually yes, that’s the way the motoring industry seems to be going.

High end Honda

VFR1200F: The new, long awaited VFR1200F Sports Tourer was revealed and while the specification is high end, road test reports in the UK have been somewhat critical that it doesn’t meet its hype!

CB1100: The retro styled CB1100 was again present as it was in 2009. If you want to ride a big heavy lump of metal without any weather protection, buy one. Not strictly a posing machine (too ugly) but certainly less than practical.

CBR600RR: Honda’s sport bike offering was their sweet CBR600RR, a must have for every young Pedrosa pretender. The same engine that powers the CBR600RR has been chosen by Dorna as the power unit to replace all two stroke 250 cc race machines in the new Moto2 class of the MotoGP championship series. On display was a mock up of the Bimota framed Moto2 (600cc) entry for Thai rider Ratthapark Wilairot.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that the US GP of a few years back started with six cars only and was a farce. However one year the 24 Hours of Le Mans started with only 17 cars. I asked, what year was that? It was 1930.

So to this week. Which driver repaired his broken chassis with wood from his hotel furniture in the Paris-Vienna race, finishing 12th with no clutch, no exhaust pipe and only one gear? Clue: 1902.

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]

Good luck!

Porsche’s Cayenne goes green and it’s not the paint

Porsche’s first hybrid – the Cayenne S Hybrid luxury SUV – will be the second most expensive model in the range, although well short of the Cayenne Turbo.

Porsche Hybrid

The lean and green hybrid SUV, which returns a European combined fuel consumption cycle of 8.2 liters per 100 km will not be the most expensive hybrid on the market. That honor goes to the Lexus LS600hL four-seater.

The Cayenne’s new parallel hybrid system combines an Audi-sourced 245 kW supercharged 3.0 liter petrol V6 with a 34 kW electric motor for a maximum output of 279 kW and 580 Nm.

Porsche claims this drivetrain – which will also appear in the upcoming Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid and, most likely, the next Audi Q7 range – can deliver the economy of a six-cylinder with the performance of a V8. The Porsche features kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) technology developed by the Williams Formula 1 team. Braking energy is stored and can be used to drive a pair of electric motors mated to the front wheels of the all-wheel-drive car.

A new eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox is among the improvements in the re-worked range.

The Korean Grand Prix – this year or next?

To site a Grand Prix circuit in a country with absolutely no F1 history sounds more than a little peculiar. Yet, Bernie E and the boys jubilantly stated there will be a Korean GP in October this year.

Last year’s end we saw the inaugural Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, now christened the ‘Yawn Marina’ despite its hotel which changes color. Though the venue might have been awe inspiring, the circuit itself was anything but, being another of the predictable Hermann Tilke ‘line up in order and don’t pass’ circuits. When will F1, the FIA and Bernie E ever learn?

However, Bernie E has countries knocking on his door wanting to host a round of the F1 championship because those countries think this elevates them above their station in the eyes of the world. And they pay heavily for that right, into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For the Abu Dhabi track, the cost was in the vicinity of $400 million. And how much to the ‘Commercial Rights Holder’ (Bernie)? And the country has no hope of recouping that figure. Neither now nor in the future.

Of interest is the fact that Korea co-hosted the 2002 football world cup and lost money on the biggest spectator sport in the world. This new venture with the third biggest spectator sport in the world will go the same way.

The South Koreans were not daunted, as the Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO) chief Chung Yung-Cho said, “Construction is half-completed. We will do our best to build a ‘speed mecca’ both in name and reality when the track opens in July 2010.”

However, comes the news this week that there have been delays, and now it looks as if the new Korean track may not be ready for October, but may have to be held over until 2011.

The delays are not the only problem. Its location is also remote from the capital, where the majority of Koreans live. Will they travel 320 km to an event in which the country has no constructors or drivers? The answer is most likely in the negative.

South Korea believes that by having this F1 circuit, it will show to the world that it is the third largest economy in Asia. Korea also is known worldwide for its involvement with cars. Korean car companies such as Hyundai and Daewoo are huge exporters of cars worldwide and Korean people themselves, traditionally always embrace the opportunity to host worldwide sports events. South Korea has also held the Olympics and is seeking in the future to hold the winter Olympics. However, there is no F1 Hyundai or Daewoo. And it looks as if there won’t be a Korean GP this year either.

Stella Awards

You may have seen this, but it is worth repeating in a motoring column.

For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald’s in New Mexico, where she purchased the coffee. She took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right? That’s right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head in disbelief. So keep your head scratcher handy.

This year’s runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy one.

Are we, as a society, getting more stupid?