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February 2011

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Phillip Island proved a smashingly good weekend for Aprilia, as Max Biaggi began to defend his #1 plate by qualifying and finishing second in both races, one nearly as uncontested as Carlos Checa’s wins, and one a ray of hope for close fighting all season. Though teammate Leon Camier did not fare nearly as well, his thirteenth and sixth place finishes were remarkable for someone contending with a nasty fever.

Overall, the opening round of the 2011 World Superbike season seems to belie the suspicions that all of Aprilia’s 2010 success came down to its “unfair” gear-driven camshaft, and that Ducatis could not be competitive in WSBK’s oppressive technical formula.







The Honda RC212Vs are fast this year, there’s no denying the point. The top four overall testing times at the second Sepang test were each slotted to one of the four factory Honda riders. The Japanese company is hungry for another World Championship in the premier class, something it hasn’t seen since Nicky Hayden took the honor in 2006, and its fielding of three very capable riders in the Repsol Honda squad is just one of the measures Honda is willing to go to in order to better its chances for victory.

While all of the 2011 MotoGP race bikes are basically improvements upon the 2010 designs, Honda has spent the long winter months developing technology that will trickle down through the coming seasons, as MotoGP heads back to a 1,000cc format.

Accused of developing and using a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) by the Italian press, Honda has come under scrutiny for using a technology that is banned in GP racing. While it’s true that Honda was the first to develop a DCT for a production motorcycle (the VFR1200F), the Japanese company has come clean in order to dispel any rumors that it is cheating in the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. While not using a DCT, Honda says it has developed a new transmission that is in compliance with MotoGP regulations, and produces extremely quick gear changes, like a dual-clutch transmission.













Last week Harley-Davidson reached a deal with the leadership at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 176 and the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 760 labor unions, but details on the deal were under wraps until the labor unions’ membership at Harley-Davidson’s Kansas City plant could vote on the deal. Ratifying the seven-year contract, Harley-Davidson will be implementing a new production operating system that is being rolled out across all of Harley’s production facilities, including the Missouri plant.

While Harley-Davidson’s new production system is expected to provide greater flexibility for seasonal and other volume-related production changes, it will also allow for great flexibility in customizing customers’ bikes directly on the assembly line. Harley-Davidson has been touting its H-D1 factory customization service, and this new production system would appear to be the back-end changes necessary to make that program possible. We imagine the union members cared less about this added flexibility in Harley’s production line, and were instead more concerned over the 145 workers who would be moved from full-time positions to flexible positions.







As the Ducati Cup, also know as World Superbike, enters the 2011 season, the grid looks odd without a presence many have taken for granted for several decades, a factory Ducati team. While Ducati does have Valentino Rossi on its prototype GP11 this year, the Xerox WSBK team is no more, leaving others to defend Ducati’s honor in the series. This weekend at Philip Island, Carlos Checa rode his Althea Ducati to pole and a double victory, dominating the weekend. Though the Bologna factory may not be present as an official team entry, Ducati’s racing heritage appears well represented in World Superbike for 2011.







According to the folks at Motociclismo.it, this is the first shot of Aprilia’s new adventure-touring motorcycle, the Aprilia Caponord. Based on the 1200cc Dorsoduro chassis and motor, the Caponord (or Tuareg 1200 if you want to believe other rumors) was originally supposed to debut at the 2010 EICMA show, but is now apparently slotted for a later arrival. Details are scarce on the model right now, but it’s clear from the 17″ front wheel and street-derived chassis that Aprilia is gunning for the Ducati Multistrada 1200 with its design.







Sunday dawned a damp Phillip Island for the opening round of World Superbike racing, after a clear week of testing and practices which were all dominated by Carlos Checa. The Spaniard won pole on Saturday, though reigning champion Max Biaggi’s improvement through the weekend brought his qualifying time to within .013s of Checa’s. Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam were next to the veterans on the front row.

Both were also fast in the damp morning warm-up, though Australian Troy Corser was fastest in the changed conditions, with Checa was tenth fastest. It was dry and sunny by race time rolled around for Race 1, though the sky had turned grey for Sunday’s second race. To see how the riders adapted to the changed weather for Race 2, continue reading after the jump.







Carlos Checa started the season-opening round of World Superbike racing at Phillip Island on pole, having dominated testing and the weekend. Reigning champion Max Biaggi started alongside him, finally bearing his #1 championship plate, having posted a qualifying time just .013s slower than Checa’s. Completing the front row were Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam, both quick in the dry times from Saturday’s qualifying.

Conditions on Sunday led to some shake-ups in the order for the morning warm-up, as overnight rain dampened the track. Australian Troy Corser led those times, followed by Guintoli, Jakub Smrz, Haslam, and the injured Jonathan Rea. Chris Vermeulen was unable to race at Phillip Island after failing to pass the physical due to a slow recovery from knee surgery. To find out who dominated Phillip Island Race 1, continue reading after the jump.







Lapping by a very narrow margin over reigning World Champion Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa won the pole position for the 2011 World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island today. Though the Spaniard dominated the testing and practice sessions this week, Biaggi continued to improve his times, and was only .013s slower at the end of qualifying session. Also showing strong results were Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam, who complete the front row for Sunday’s races.

Jonathan Rea rallied after a severe testing crash and his second crash of the day to qualify twelfth, while Leon Camier, suffering from glandular fever, qualified sixteenth and did not make Superpole, a blow for the Aprilia factory team even as teammate Biaggi unveiled his #1 plate.







While we’re still poring over Harley-Davidson‘s annual report, making Excel spreadsheets, and winning at bullshit bingo, a couple interesting facts have struck us about the company and some of the trends it is experiencing. While it’s been mostly doom and gloom around Harley-Davidson in 2010, the Milwaukee-based company does appear to be solely in business because of the strong cost-cutting CEO Keith Wandell has been able to achieve during his tenure. Despite the moaning and groaning from the Bar & Shield loyal about Wandell’s non-motorcycle riding lifestyle, the CEO knows how to trim the fat, which is exactly what this HOG needed. Find five interesting facts for you to mull over this weekend after the jump.







If you’ve bought a Suzuki motorcycle in the past few years, you might want to check out the list for the Japanese company’s latest motorcycle recall. Affecting 73,426 motorcycles from various product lines and model years (2008-2010), Suzuki has discovered a faulty electrical rectifier/regulator in its design that needs replacing.

According to the recall, rectifiers/regulators on bikes built between July 2007 and September 2009 have an inadequate amount of adhesion between the power module and the case, which results in the unit not sufficiently being cooled by its heat sink (affected Suzuki part numbers are: 32800-41F11, 32800-15H10, 32800-05H11, 32800-41G10, 32800-15H00, 32800-18H00, 32800-05G10, 32800-10G10, 32800-05H20, OR 32800-06G01). As a result the unit’s circuit board could warp, and become dislodged from its casing.







Fresh off its victory in the 2010 FIM World Superbike Championship, Aprilia is bringing its WSBK tech to the masses. Designated as Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC), The Italian company first debuted its 8-stage adjustable traction control, wheelie control, launch control, and a quick shifter package on the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC, which debuted at the 2010 EICMA show. Now the company from Noale is bringing that same electronics package to its more affordable Aprilia RSV4 R street machine as a standard feature on the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC.

Along with the added APRC system, the Aprilia RSV4 R APRC features an improved motor lubrication system, and the first three gears are spaced for better acceleration. The exhaust system has also been lightened by 2kg (just under 5 lbs).

The 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC also comes with the same 200/55 x 17 dual-compound rear tire that’s found on the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC. Other changes include lighter wheels, a fully-adjustable Sachs rear shock, better fuel consumption, and some new graphics. Pricing will be $16,999 in the United States, and £13,999 (exc. OTR) for our brothers in apex across the pond.