Monday, August 17, 2009

Why a VUN?

When I started riding back in New Zealand in the early 1980's (gulp!) I was passionate about bikes. I wanted to know and do everything related to motorbikes. I rode every day in any weather. I read about bikes, raced bikes, crashed and fixed my own bikes.

I've always had an attraction to exotic motorcycles rather than 'everyday' bikes. The more I learned and wanted to go fast, the more my head turned towards Italian bikes and specifically Ducati. After many years of upgrading to the latest and greatest superbikes I started to loose my passion. Why?

Every year the race for more and more horsepower gives us faster and faster bikes. More power = more fun right? I suppose so but who can really use 180 bhp on a winding public road? Going 300km/h in a straight line on the autobahn becomes kind of pointless after a while.

Here is a challenge: Take your 1340cc Suzuki Hayabusa, or similar, (about 190bhp) to a race track and put it against a proper 125cc race bike (about 55bhp). Who is going to win? Unless the Hayabusa is being ridden by Mat Mladin or the track has really long straights, then the 125cc race bike will win every time.

I've done this, more than once. Not on a Hayabusa, but on other superbikes. I wanted to know why I couldn't catch that little knat of a 125cc 2-stroke. It was embarrasing damn it!

I've also raced 500cc singles and kicked the ass of much more powerful bikes. I can tell you that this is a lot of fun. Ever since this time I have been searching for a bike that is very light, simple and excellent handling. Power is interesting but it is a secondary consideration. In other words I wanted an anti-Hayabusa

It seems that no manufacturer is willing to make such a bike anymore. Ducati made the incomparable Supermono in the early 1990's. This remains my idea of the perfect bike, but it never went into production. Marketing triumphs over engineering? Gilera and Bimota made some interesting singles, also in the '90s, but they were still quite heavy and, well you can't buy them anymore.

Sure I could find a light and simple bike. But it will be a cheap beginners bike that looks better than it is. These things have very little power, bad suspension, bad brakes, cheap build quality and no style. What to do? Buy a 2-stroke race replica? No thanks, you've got to draw the line somewhere.

Then I found the VUN. At last someone is making a serious lightweight sports-bike again. This bike is very nimble, handles beautifully and has excellent brakes. On a tight road it is FAST. Thanks to the VUN I am passionate about motorcycles once again.

The VUN isn't perfect, but it is pretty close. The base is excellent and the potential to improve it to new limits is great. I will be documenting my journey with the VUN back to motorcycling passion on this blog and you are most welcome to join me...

(p.s. the photo in this post is not me. It is a track-day photo from the CR&S web site)

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