To steal a phrase from my Two Enthusiasts Podcast co-host Quentin Wilson, this bike is pinnacle weird. And while the Watkins M001 is certainly one strange duck, it is also incredibly alluring, with its boxer engine, metal plate frame, and funky front-end design.
The work of Jack Watkins, an engineer by trade, the Watkins M001 is nine years in the making, a date that is helped measured by the air-cooled BMW R1150RT engine that resides at the machine’s center.
The hub-center steering design is inspired by Stellan Egeland’s BMW Harrier, which first caught out attention back in the early days of Asphalt & Rubber, again a nod to how long Jack Watkins has been working on his custom, in his spare time.
In Episode 48 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, we didn’t set out to talk about all the weird technologies in the motorcycle industry, though our conversation certainly covered its fair share of them.
We start the show talking about the Vyrus 986 M2 supersport, which features a unique hub-center steering chassis. This leads us into a conversation about the supersport market, and the rumors that Suzuki is bringing out a new GSX-R750.
From there, Quentin breaks some news that a reliable source has told him that there will be a new Suzuki GSX-R600 for the 2019 model year, which goes against what had previously been rumored. We then finish up the Suzuki talk with a quick discussion about the Suzuki Hayabusa, and hyperbikes in general.
The show ends with us talking about KTM’s new fuel-injection for two-stroke dirt bikes, and what that means for that segment of the industry. Q also tries his best to explain how transfer port injection works, though we would recommend googling some visual adds when you get to that portion of the show.
A fun show, though we think you will also find it very insightful as well.
You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!
Every time I hear about how the Japanese brands are abandoning the 600cc sport bike market, I have a little chuckle with myself. Honda et al will tell you that the issue is that motorcyclists don’t want to ride supersports anymore. However, I am a firm believer that the real issue is that motorcyclists don’t want to ride the same old supersports that the OEMs keep cookie-cuttering out of their factories every year. In my mind, the Vyrus 986 M2 proves this point. I can think of no other machine that has generated a bigger response on Asphalt & Rubber than this 600cc Italian exotic. The sweet irony too is that it’s powered by a Honda CBR600RR engine. The motorcycle industry keeps trying to sell supersports, pitches them as watered-down superbikes, and then acts surprised when the bikes don’t sell.
We present you with perhaps the strangest motorcycle to debut at the 2015 EICMA show. The Bimota Tesi 3D champions the hub-center steering chassis design, and is one of the more unique motorcycles in the industry right now. Its design is positively futuristic, so it is a little strange that Bimota is trying to make the Tesi 3D into a café racer with the launch of the Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe. Powered by the same 803cc air-cooled v-twin engine that’s found in the Scrambler series, you can tell that Bimota is trying to latch onto the post-heritage trend that is dying a slow death in the motorcycle industry, but hasn’t quite figured out how to do it yet.
Maybe one of the most lurid motorcycles ever to grace the pages of Asphalt & Rubber, the Vyrus 986 M2 Moto2 race bike is just as much art as it is engineering innovation. Originally priced at €55,000 for the race bike (a pretty cheap price for a Moto2 machine), a street version was supposed to debut at €25,000, while a Vyrus 986 M2 kit was to be made available at €16,900 (one must supply their own Honda CB600RR motor to use the kit option).After currency exchange rates, the Vyrus 986 M2 kit sounded like a fairly affordable and hands-on way to own such a unique machine. Well, now that Vyrus is actually able to make good on its do-it-yourself option, things have changed a little…by say €10,000 or so.
The Emilia Romagna region of Italy is a melting pot for the Italian motorcycle industry. Positioned in the middle of this province, also known as the “terra dei motori” or the land of engines, sits the motorcycle company known as Bimota. In September 1972 the now famous designer Massimo Tamburini crashed his Honda 750 Four at Misano racetrack — the stack left him with three broken ribs. While recovering from his unfortunate incident, he constructed a tubular steel frame to handle the horsepower then being produced by the Japanese bikes. The frame he constructed lowered the centre of gravity and reduced the weight of the original Honda. Called the HB1, the first Bimota was born. Bimota’s name is derived from its founders’ initials: Bianchi, Morri and Tamburini.
Technically very similar to the Bimota Tesi 3D (there’s a reason for that), the Vyrus 984 C3 2V is that other hub-center steering motorcycle from Italy. Featuring a 992cc Ducati DesmoDue motor at its core, the Vyrus 984 is about as radical as it gets when it comes to modern motorcycles. Upping the ante another notch though is the Vyrus 984 Ultimate Edition, which takes the already light 984 machine, and drops its weight to 144kg (317 lbs) dry. Helping Vyrus achieve that ludicrous figure is the company’s copious usage of carbon fiber on the Vyrus 984 Ultimate Edition, which drops over 10 lbs from the original design.
In my list of the Top 10 motorcycles ever, I think the Bimota Tesi 3D would make a strong showing. A truly unique machine, the lack of fairings only serves to showcase the hub-center steering mechanism, making the Tesi 3D an intriguing work of both art and science. Separating the braking forces from the suspension travel, on paper motorcycle’s with hub-center steering have a significant mechanical advantage over their traditional counterparts, in reality though they have failed to live up to the hype on the track. A product of either riders who are groomed to expect the workings of traditional linear fork suspension systems, or simply a answer to question that wasn’t asked, hub-center steering hasn’t exactly taken off…yet.
One of our favorite bikes to debut last year, the Vyrus 986 M2 continues to be developed by the small Italian firm, and pictures of the 600cc, omega-framed, hub-center steered motorcycle have been uploaded to the Vyrus Facebook profile page, and show the Moto2 hopeful in its street-legal form. Breaking cover back in January 2011, Vyrus had hopes of racing the 986 M2 in the Moto2 Championship, as well as selling a street and kit version of the motorcycle to consumers. At €25,000 ready to roll (€50,000 for the race version), the street-going Vyrus 986 M2 might be one of the most expensive supersport-class motorcycles on the market, but honestly, wouldn’t you want to own one these bay boys instead of a comparably-priced liter-bike? We know we would.
The maxi-scooter scene in Japan borders on the lunatic fringe, as the two-wheeled segment is over-saturated with trendy young riders, as full-size motorcycles are too prohibitively expensive for 20-somethings in the island nation. This has created a vibrant tuner and modder community for scooters in Japan, which has spurred some of the most audacious builds we have ever seen. It doesn’t surprise us then to see the zecOO from Kota Nezu of Znug Design.
The Vyrus 986 M2 has to be one of the most gorgeous motorcycles we’ve ever seen grace our pages here at Asphalt & Rubber. It’s edgy and doesn’t conform to many of the elements we’d expect from a motorcycle design, and best of all Vyrus intends to race the hub-center steering bike. With the Moto2 World Championship perhaps out of reach for the small Italian company, we instead see the Vyrus 986 M2 making an entry in the Spanish CEV Moto2 Championship, a national-level series that uses the same rules as the World Championship. Helping Vyrus enter that series is exhaust manufacturer MIVV, which has some experience in the CEV series, having partnered with FTR in past years.