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  • Vyrus 986 M2 now ready for order – swingarm front suspension, CBR600R power, only 50 to be built

    In the world of special production, limited edition motorcycles, there is one that was much-awaited, and left many wondering if it would ever come to fruition since the company was founded back in 2001. This is the Vyrus, a hub-centre steered motorcycle that strongly resembles the legendary Bimota Tesi.

    This is no accident, as Vyrus split-off from Bimota as the Rimini, Italy maker was facing financial difficulties (is there any other for Italian vehicle makers?). Taking the basis of Massimo Tamburini’s Tesi – thesis in Italian, Vyrus continued developing the basic design, which has now culminated in the Vyrus 986 M2.

    Using a Honda CBR600R inline-four as its powerplant, the Vyrus 986 M2 uses the engine as a stressed-member, cradled between two billet-machined plates, just like its Tesi forebear. What sets the 986 M2 apart is the hub-centre steering, something that is difficult to execute well for motorcycles, but Tamburini’s dream.

    The advantage of hub-centre swingarm steering for the motorcycle’s front wheel is anti-dive is inherent in the design, and with tweaking of the actuation rods and steering geometry, the bike can be made to rise under braking. This will be something familiar to those who have ridden motorcycles with leading link front suspension, like the venerable Honda Cub.

    Obvious disadvantages are the weight of the entire system, plus the swingarm having to be wide enough to allow for adequate steering movement. What the hub-centre design does give you is this perfectly neutral steering through corners at high-speed, something almost unnatural in its performance.

    Hand-built to order from some 750 components and discrete parts, the Vyrus 986 M2 comes with carbon-fibre bodywork, de rigeur at this level of motorcycle. There are two versions available, a hand-built factory option tailored to the customer, or a kit version which is assembled by the customer using their own CBR600R engine, and pricing starts from 25,000 euros (RM119,020).

  • Ducati 1199 S Panigale Racer by Ortolani Customs

    While Ducati’s Panigale series of superbikes are truly awesome machines – we found this out riding the Ducati 959 Panigale – there is little to differentiate the base, ‘S’ and ‘R’ models in the line-up, save a little sticker on the front cowl. All the magic and wizardry is hidden under the same Ducati red fairing, inside the engine.

    What if I told you, there was a way to put a Superquadro engine on display, aside from the obvious route of getting a Ducati Monster, of course? That is what French custom outfit Ortolani Customs has done, taking the Superquadro engine from a 2014 Ducati Panigale 1199 S, and showing the engine, steampunk style.

    Typically, Panigale Superquadro V-twin engines don’t lend themselves to being exhibited, naked, as Ortolani Customs – located in St Andre de la Roche, outside of Nice, France – found out. The plethora of tubes, pipes, cables and wires, while making for expedited maintenance, tends to make things somewhat untidy.

    For Ortolani Customs, taking the Ducati Superquadro engine – which functions as a stressed member in frame – presented a different set of problems. It was not possible to just hang a new fuel tank and bodywork off a frame, so every piece had to support its own weight, as well as the weight of the rider and another other equipment.

    The use of aluminium for the bodywork raised another set of issues, as it was intended for the metal to be polished to a mirror-finish. Easy enough to do with steel, but aluminium is soft, and shows any mistakes made during forming and polishing rather too easily.

    Each sheet of aluminium used on the Ortolani Panigale Racer is hand-worked, beaten, formed and polished, says a post. The fuel tank, made as a seamless piece, carries both fuel and the Racer’s electronics components, and covers the engine’s airbox.

    Additional bodywork consists of two pieces – the fore section covers the radiator and hides the external accessories for the engine, while the rear section forms the tail-piece and seat. The rear light slips neatly into the folds and curves of the bodywork, giving the Ortolani Racer a sleek, almost organic look.

    At the front, a neatly bi-furcated headlight houses the intake tract in its lower half, again minimising the amount of external bodywork and adding to the smooth lines of the bike. Down below, a full-system Akrapovic exhaust in titanium does the job of getting rid of waste gases, and doing nothing to distract from the lines of the Racer.

    While the factory-fitted braking from Brembo, with its famed M50 Monobloc callipers, is no slouch, Ortolani saw fit to… well… fit a pair for carbon-fibre ceramic brake discs straight off the Desmosedici GP-series racebike. This, of course, makes the Racer a track-only special, as it would be very difficult to get the carbon-ceramic discs up to working temperature on the street.

    A large chin fairing piece finishes off the look of the Ducati 1199 S Racer by Ortolani, hiding the oil-cooler and the bottom half of the Superquadro twin. In Malaysia, the 2017 Ducati Panigale 1299 S retails for RM190,000, including GST.

  • 200-plus bikers donate blood in Kawasaki “Gift of Life”

    As part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the community, Kawasaki Motors Malaysia held a blood donation campaign at the Summit USJ mall over the weekend, and over 200 bikers turned up to give the “Gift of Life”. Organised with the assistance of the National Blood Centre, the riders cheerfully gave a donation of blood, knowing their sacrifice will help others.

    Now in its ninth edition, Kawasaki’s blood donation drive saw 250 blood donors accepted out of 298 applicants last year. As an added attraction, two lucky draws were held at the blood donation, with the prize for each draw a Kawasaki Vulcan S denim shirt.

    The blood donation drive is part of Kawasaki Motors Malaysia’s annual CSR campaign. Previous campaigns held include road safety campaigns as well as Jamuan Raya Kawasaki held during fasting month.

  • Suzuki GSX-R750 preparing for a comeback in 2018?

    As the machine that set the mould for the focused, full-fairing, , homologation special, race-ready superbike as we know it today, the Suzuki GSX-R750 is iconic in many ways. With the current model GSX-R750 introduced in 2011, and not seeing any real updates since then, a revision for arguably the world’s most loved middleweight superbike has been a long time coming.

    The Suzuki GSX-R600 is being allowed to gradually fade as current inventory runs out – following the Honda CBR600 – simply because it is cost prohibitive to bring the engine under Euro 4 compliance. However, Australian Motorcycle News reports Suzuki “will not allow the GSX-R750 name to die so easily.”

    One thing for sure will be the new GSX-R750 is going to retain the inline four-cylinder that Suzuki fans know and love so well. It can be expected that the electronics suite for the three-quarter litre Gixxer will follow in the footsteps of its bigger brother, the GSX-R1000 L7.

    This would mean advanced traction control, ride-by-wire, ride modes, launch control, cornering ABS and perhaps even semi-active suspension, something Suzuki eschewed for the GSX-R1000, citing the lack of a real cost-benefit ratio. Styling for the new GSX-R750 will likely take its cue from the Gixxer 1000 as well.

    All this means Suzuki has its hands full for the next couple years, as the Hayabusa is also due for an update, along with the rest of its range. Let’s see what happens at the various motor shows and such over the next 24 months, and see if Suzuki can pull a rabbit out of the hat and give us another game-changing motorcycle like the original GSX-R750.

    GALLERY: 2016 Suzuki GSX-R750 30th Anniversary

  • Honda NM4 Vultus to star in Ghost in the Shell movie

    Honda futuristic motorcycle based on the NM4 Vultus makes appearances in the feature film “GHOST IN THE SHELL”

    Looking like it rolled out of the pages of a manga – Japanese comic book – it is only fitting the Honda NM4 Vultus shares some screen time with Scarlett Johanssen in the up-coming motion picture Ghost in the Shell. In the movie, Johanssen, who plays Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg with enhanced neural and physical capability, rides the NM4 Vultus on the streets of Tokyo in pursuit of the Puppet Master.

    Developed under the keywords of “neo-futuristic” and “cool”, the Honda NM4 was launched in April 2014. Using a 670 cc EFI parallel-twin engine mated to a dual-mode six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) gearbox, the NM4 is claimed to put out 54 hp at 6,250 rpm and 68 Nm of torque at 4,750 rpm.

    An LCD instrument panel that changes colour to suit rider preference, cycling through a range of 25 shades, lets the NM4 Vultus have the screen matching the paint-job. The adjustable rider back-rest allows for the rider to customise the seating position.

    Coming with dual 16-litre integrated storage compartments, the Honda NM4 also features a flip-down passenger seat, giving the scooter a sleek single-seater look. Weighing in at a fairly substantial 245 kg, the NM4 puts the rider a low 650 mm off the ground.

    As depicted on-screen, the Honda NM4 Vultus will be on display at the 33rd Osaka Motorcycle Show 2017 on March 18. It will make a second appearance at the 44th Tokyo Motorcycle Show on March 24.

  • KTM unveils new two-stroke fuel injection engine

    Even though a two-stroke single-cylinder engine gives the best power-to-engine weight ratio, its biggest drawback is the poor emissions control inherent in the engine’s design. Austrian maker of dirt-bikes and other performance motorcycles, KTM, has unveiled a new two-stroke single that it believes will revolutionise the off-road motorcycle world.

    Designed to fit into its 2018 enduro bike, the KTM EXC, the two-stroke, single-cylinder engine – developed in-house at KTM’s Mattighofen R & D facility – will feature a new way of delivering fuel and lubricant to the cylinder. Dubbed Transfer Port Injection (TPI), KTM claims this new technology drastically reduces fuel consumption while eliminating the need for pre-mix fuel or adjusting carburettor jetting.

    “This is an incredibly exciting development for KTM. We have been developing 2-stroke fuel injection for some time, and our goal was to create competitive motorcycles with all the benefits of fuel injection,” said Joachim Sauer, KTM Product Marketing Manager. The off-road bikes that will receive the new two-stroke TPI engine are the 2018 KTM 250 EXC TPI and KTM 300 EXC TPI, which debut in May.

    “In the USA and Canada, the new 2018 KTM 250 XC-W TPI will be available in very limited quantities in late fall,” said Sauer. For Malaysia, the 2017 KTM motocross range starts with the two-stroke 250 EXC Six Days, which retails for RM38,160.

    Next up are the four-stroke enduro 250 EXC-F and 250 EXC-F Six Days, which go for RM41,870 and RM45,050, respectively. The KTM 350 EXC-F and 350 EXC-F Six Days are priced at RM42,400 and RM45,580, while the 450 EXC-F at RM42,930 and the 450 EXC-F Six Days at RM46,110 top out the range.

    Also offered is the competition-only KTM 450 SX-F – which omits lighting and other road legal equipment – at RM39,750. All prices include GST.

  • Triumph Bonneville Street Twin – the “Salt Flat Racer”

    As a range of retro-styled motorcycles bought up-to-date with today’s tech, Triumph’s “Modern Classics” range has proven to be very popular with the riding public, one of which is the base model Bonneville Street Twin. At its essence a naked “universal” motorcycle, the Street Twin lends itself to customisation easily.

    The Triumph Dealer Custom Built Competition is a contest organised by Triumph for its worldwide dealer network. Using the current Triumph Street Twin as a basis, dealers are allowed to display their skills and talent in customisation, with the proviso that the machine remain somewhat road legal.

    Taking a Triumph Bonneville Street Twin, Triumph Groningen, from the Netherlands, created their version of the famed “Salt Flat Racer”. Closely mimicking the lines of the larger Thruxton R, the Salt Flat Racer is the brainchild of Triumph Groningen owner Leonard Wagenmakers with the design by Roger Koers and metal fabricator Rinaldo Wiegman.

    Completed in only two weeks, the Triumph Bonneville Street Twin Salt Flat Racer is their idea of what a care racer should look like, with a milieu of fabricated and hand-built parts. The bodywork for the racing seat cowl is made from rolled one millimetre think steel, and conceals a transparent Triumph logo made from glass that is lit by a brake light from an Opel Vectra.

    A single PIAA headlight is located asymmetrically on the front fairing, which follows the classic lines of racing machines from the sixties. In the cockpit, the fuel tank, lifted off the Triumph Thruxton R, is painted to imitate the patina of a slat flat racer, along with the cut-down levers that served to cut down wind resistance in the days before motorcycle aerodynamics was properly understood.

    Retro-bikes with modern under-pinnings seem to be enjoying a renaissance of sorts at the moment, and not just amongst the hipster crowd. There is a segment of the riding population, notably new riders and those coming back to the sport, who appreciate an approachable and easy to ride machine like the Triumph Street Twin, which retails in Malaysia for RM56,900 in 2017.

  • DBKL to implement motorcycle zones at traffic lights

    Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) will be running trials on a new system that will see special motorcycle stop zones being implemented at certain traffic lights, Bernama reports.

    These zones – which will be painted in red and white – will be the designated stop area for motorcyclists, who will not be allowed to stop anywhere outside the zone at these lights. Other motorists will have to stop their vehicles behind the specified motorcycle zone.

    Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Mhd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz said this restructuring is to improve overall traffic safety and provide better facilities for motorcycles stop in a safe condition. “Each zone will be able to accommodate more than 20 motorcycles at one time,” he explained.

    He said the motorcycle zones will initially be implemented at three locations – Jalan Raja Laut, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Tun Perak. He added that several other locations to establish such facilities have been identified.

    Mhd Amin Nordin said DBKL will run the system for a three-month trial period starting from this month for road users to get accustomed to the new traffic restructuring. After the trial period, motorists who fail to comply with the directive will be fined between RM50 and RM100, he said.

  • 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 L7 gets Yoshimura add-ons

    The names of Suzuki and Yoshimura have denoted racing success since 1978, when “Pops” Yoshimura – real name Hideo Yoshimura – and Wes Cooley took a Suzuki GS to victory at Daytona. Today, Yoshimura, now managed by Pops’ son, Fujio, runs Suzuki’s US superbike racing team.

    Naturally, racing Suzuki GSX-Rs, Yoshimura is in a unique position to develop performance parts for the big Gixxer and other bikes, something it has done for close to 60 years. For the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000, Yoshimura has come up with a set of street and race exhausts in steel and titanium, along with other parts designed to enhance the GSX-R’s race performance.

    First up for the Suzuki GSX-R1000 is Yoshimura’s Race Alpha T exhaust systems, available in stainless steel and titanium, with carbon-fibre exhaust end caps. In stainless, the Yoshimura Race Alpha exhaust header and end can retails for 1,199 USD (RM5,334), while a full titanium exhaust system for that authentic race look will set you back 2,269 USD (RM10,095).

    For street use, slip-on end-cans in either stainless steel or titanium are available, with carbon-fibre end caps. Going stainless steel will cost 579 USD (RM2,576), while the lighter titanium end can goes for 779 USD (RM3,466). All Yoshimura exhaust cans feature its “tri-oval” design which increases ground clearance and tucks the can out of the way.

    Engine goodies from Yoshimura designed to fit the GSX-R1000 include engine covers and plug kits, at 369.95 USD (RM1,646) and 89.95 USD (RM400) respectively. Also for street use are a fender eliminator kit at 149 USD (RM662), tank pad at 29.99 USD (RM133) and works-style handlebar ends at 59.95 USD (RM266).

    Rounding out the set of Suzuki GSX-R1000 specific accessories from Yoshimura are a pair of works-style mirror hole caps, that close off the openings left behind when the mirrors are removed for track use. These will cost you 84.95 USD (RM378), and shipping for all items is extra.

  • Indian Motorcycle and Jack Daniel’s whiskey team up for Indian Chieftain limited edition – only 100 units

    While we do not condone riding and drinking, there is a certain image of the biker as a hard-partying, hard-drinking rebel on a cruiser. To that end, two iconic American brands – Indian Motorcycle and Jack Daniel’s Distillery – have come together to issue a limited edition Indian Chieftain in a limited production run of 100 units, worldwide.

    Based on the standard Indian Chieftain with its 1,811 cc Thunderstroke V-twin, the Jack Daniel’s Indian Chieftain features a special white-and-black-crystal paint job. Work on this bagger was done by Klock Werks Kustom Cycles of South Dakota, US.

    As can be expected, the Jack Daniel’s logo features prominently on the paint scheme, along with the “Old No. 7” logo, the Jack Daniel’s trademark. The bike’s edition number is painted on the tank centre console, and the horn is covered by a pure silver cover made by Montana Silversmiths.

    Unique to the Jack Daniel’s Chieftain are cam, primary, and air intake covers, and a 200-watt sound system with saddlebag speakers is fitted as standard. Also standard is an electric windshield and Indian’s Ride Command infotainment and navigation system.

    Part of the limited edition package includes an American flag made from wood taken from casks used to store Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Each flag is customised with the owner’s name, motorcycle edition number and vehicle identification number. Billet-machined floorboards are added, emblazoned with Jack Daniel’s design elements including a reminder that “Bottles and Throttles Don’t Mix”.

    Priced at 34,999 USD (RM155,780), the Jack Daniel’s Indian Chieftain is part of a series of collaborations between the whiskey distiller and motorcycle maker. Previous editions included the 150th Anniversary Chief Vintage and Springfield motorcycles in 2016.