Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Pattoni Connection

If you are the type who can't help rooting for the perennial underdog, as I am, then you can't but love the Paton 500 MotoGP effort. The story begins in 1958 when Giuseppe Pattoni and Lino Tonti left the defunct Mondial GP squad to build their own 125cc Paton GP bike. An example placed 7th at the Isle of Man TT that year, in the hands of a young Mike Hailwood.

Working full time for a Lancia car dealer in Milan, Giuseppe Pattoni continued the motorcycle GP effort designing and building bikes in his spare time using his employer's facilities.

The 250 GP of the early 1960's eventually evolved into the formidable 500cc 4-stroke 180° twin of 1968.


This bike saw considerable success, wining many world championship points and some podiums and winning the Italian 500cc championship in 1967. Not bad for a self-funded team comprised of friends and enthusiasts.

By the end of 1974 it was clear that the reign of the 4-stroke was over in the 500GP class. A new 2-stroke was developed which evolved and competed on the world stage right to the end of the 2-stroke era in 2001.

The cost and effort to develop, construct and compete on the world stage as a private marque, for so many years, was enormous and a constant struggle. Help and support from sponsors, friends and family made the impossible possible.

For 20 years Giuseppe Pattoni got by with only one full-time mechanic, Gianemillio Marchesani. When Marchesani was killed in a road accident in the early 1980's his place was taken by Giuseppe's son, Roberto Pattoni.

Paton Engineering

Giuseppi died in 1999 leaving Roberto to take up the rein. After 2001, rule changes to the top class meant the return of 4-stroke race bikes (this time with 1000cc engines) and the end of the 500cc 2-stroke era.

The cost of developing a competitive new 4-stroke MotoGP bike could not be justified and so Roberto diversified his business. Paton Engineering now provides two core services: performance motorcycle consulting and development; and construction of "original replica" versions of the venerable 1968 Paton 500cc GP 4-stroke.


CR&S was the first customer of Paton Engineering's new consulting division and Roberto Pattoni collaborated on technical development of their new VUN project.

Early sketch of the VUN's frame and rear suspension geometry.

Roberto Pattoni oversees computer modeling of the VUN.

This collaboration worked so well that, in 2004, Roberto Pattoni accepted an offer to become a full partner at CR&S in charge of technical development.

The VUN Paton 50th Anniversary Edition

In 2008, to mark the 50th anniversary of Paton GP racing, a special edition VUN was created, with chasis #50, in the clasic green and gold colors of the 1960's Paton race bikes.

Roberto Vun e Duu


Mick Walker's Italian Racing Motorcycles - Redline Books, CR&S Homepage, Paton Engineering Homepage, various old motorcycle magazines and some fond memories.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Genesis of the VUN

A rather nice trailer to the documentary film called "Genesis of the VUN". If you'd like to see the whole thing it is available on DVD from any VUN dealer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Other Desirable Bikes (part 2)

Continuing on the theme of other superlight, exotic sportsbikes.


Have you ever seen one of these?...

If you think it is a Bimota Tesi 3D then you'd be wrong. The Bimota is exotic enough but, at 168kg dry, it doesn't make it in terms of being light weight in my opinion. No, if you want a really exotic alternative front-end motorcycle then check out the VΨRUS 984 2V.

The VΨRUS shares more than just a passing resemblance to the Bimota Tesi. The small company that builds the VΨRUS is based in Rimini, Italy, just down the road from Bimota. Ascanio Rodorigo heads the company and cut his teeth working for Bimota in the 1980's. At some time, during the many boom & bust cycles of Bimota, Ascanio gained the rights to build bikes based on the Tesi's hub-center steering design.

Hub-center steering does away with conventional telescopic forks. Instead there is a pivoting arm at the front (much like a single-sided rear swingarm) which is supported by a conventional shock-absorber. The wheel steers left and right via a steering pin located inside the hub of the front wheel. This is much like the way a car front wheel is steered. A series of levers connects the handlebars to the steering on the front wheel.

Hub-center steering offers many advantages over telescopic forks. Here are just a few:
  • Telescopic forks connect the front and rear wheels via a triangle with one side removed. This is a poor engineering choice. To compensate, sportsbikes use massively stiff front forks mounted to a strong and complex frame. The hub-center design connects front and back in a direct line, the optimal solution.

  • Telescopic forks suffer from 'stiction' as the forks slide against each other. To compensate, sportsbikes use exotic materials and fork-tube diameters are increased. The hub-center design simply pivots up and down on a bearing surface.

  • As telescopic forks move up and down they carry the extra weight of their internal shock absorbers. This compromises the suspension. 'Upside down' forks compensate for this somewhat. The only other solution is to use exotic, lightweight materials to try to reduce the unsuspended mass. In hub-center designs, the shock absorber is fully suspended weight.
All steering, braking and front suspension parameters can be tuned, separately from each other, since this system separates the steering, braking and front suspension functions from each other (think tunable anti-dive braking).

Over the years telescopic fork suspension has evolved to the point where a bad design actually works remarkably well. It was not always the case. Telescopic forks have one other advantage, because they are tilted back (raked) they can absorb the 'rearward' component of the force due to bums in the road.

Ascanio and his team perfected the Tesi design and the super-refined result is the VΨRUS.

Currently there are two models available. The 984 2D and the 985 4D. The main difference is that the 2D uses Ducati's 2-valve, air-cooled, 1000cc V-Twin; the 4D model uses Ducati's 4-valve, water-cooled superbike engine.

I chose the 2D for this article because it is the lightest and simplest of the two. At 150kg it is very light for a 1000cc twin, but just makes the grade overall for the superlight category... well 150kg is a bit outside the range really, but this bike is so exotic that I just had to include it.

Cost is a bit out of the range too. In 2006 the price of a 2D was around $40,000 so expect to pay that and a bit more today (sorry I don't have any recent figures).

I have a lot of respect for Ascanio Rodorigo and the VΨRUS team. Like CR&S, they are a small company with limited resources that have produced an exotic masterpiece using great skill, passion and the drive for perfection above compromise.

By the way, Vyrus will be unveiling some new, even more exotic, models at this year's Milan International Motorcycle show (EICMA). Just one more reason to be there.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Other Desirable Bikes (part 1)

If you like the idea of lightweight, no compromise, exotic sports bikes, as I do, then the VUN is a good place to be. But are there other bikes currently on the market that can give a similar feeling? In the next few blog entries I will look at some of the alternatives, starting with a bike that will be always near to my heart, the Ducati Supermono...

Ducati Supermono

The Original 1993 model

Ducati produced the Supermono in 1993 and 1994 using a production line that is set aside for for low volume hand-built motorcycles. The first-born child of designer Pierre Terblanche, a total of only 67 supermonos were ever built.

I have always liked the idea that Ducati are able to produce motorcycles at a low volume like this. The Mike Halewood Replica (MHR) and Desmoseidici are other excellent examples of this process.

Ducati's Massimo Bordi designed the single cylinder engine in a very clever way. Starting with the water-cooled superbike's 90° twin, they removed the vertical cylinder but retained the twin's crank and con-rod. In place of the vertical piston is a levered mass of equal weight.

This produces a single cylinder engine with the natural balance and vibration damping of a 90° twin which allows the engine to rev much higher than a conventionally balanced single.

The original supermono was only produced as a track bike (no lights or indicators), and in its time it was unbeatable in its class.

The supermono has been out of production for 15 years already so it is no longer possible to buy one right? Maybe not... Earlier this year British motorcycle engineer and supermono enthusiast, Alistair Wager, released photos and specifications of a new, replica, supermono and announced his intentions to put it into limited production. What's more it is not just a track bike, it is road legal...

Alistair Wager and his prototype

The replica version uses modern components including an updated testastretta cylinder head. The larger capacity 600cc engine is said to deliver 88hp which is an excellent figure for a single cylinder. Dry weight is claimed to be 133kg which is also pretty good for a street legal bike. The original 550cc race bike quotes figures of 72hp and only 118kg.

The replica's muffler exits from the opposite side, providing room on the left side for a flick-stand.

Sounds great right? Well, not so fast. News of this bike first leaked in March '09, since then I have heard nothing so it is pretty clear that it is not in production yet. What about the price? As you'd expect it is not cheap, expect to pay at least $50,000.

One other thing I have to mention... those headlights? I would have gone a different way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The VUN Evolution Roadstar

The VUN Evolution Roadster is a special that was originally built for a CR&S customer in Germany. Many of the upgraded components are sourced from the racing VUN PPP Evoluziòn (PPP stands for Pronta Per la Pista or track ready).

The PPP Evoluziòn-sourced parts include:
  • BST Carbon Fibre wheels,
  • QD race exhaust system fitted with street muffler,
  • Pierobon light alloy “banana” swingarm,
  • Large single radiator,
  • Race rear shock absorber.
The Pierobon swingarm is more rigid than the standard swingarm despite weighing 0.7 KG less. It is necessary to fit this swingarm to allow routing of the extended exhaust system. These are all CR&S-sourced options which are available for any road going VUN.

The front fairing, headlight, tail section and tail light were specially modified by CR&S. Instead of the round café racer style headlight, this bike has been fitted with a small projector lens. The distinctive round taillight has also been replaced by a minimalist LED system.

A chrome-plated frame, special paintwork (naturally), Rizoma indicators and other details complete the picture at a final cost of €26,000.

A second version of the VUN Evolution Roadster was built by CR&S for the Milan International Motorcycle Show (EICMA) in 2008.

Ohh all right just one more photo, in the interests of good taste... I know, you want to see that chrome plated frame from a different angle.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The DUU, a Sneak Peek

It is getting closer to the official launch of the CR&S DUU. Any new motorcycle from CR&S is going to be of interest to VUN owners so this blog will be focusing a little bit on the DUU motorcycle for a while.

Today I received some computer renderings of the DUU that you will not have seen before...

Evident in these images are the beautiful, in house designed and built, wheels and the unique CNC milled alloy mounting plates. The exaggerated large diameter through holes are another unique design feature.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

EICMA is Coming

The Milan International Motorcycle show (EICMA) kicks off in just over one month. This is going to be a big event for CR&S. November 10, 2009 at EICMA is the time and place where CR&S unveil their new DUU motorcycle to the public.

The show runs from Tuesday November 10th until Sunday November 15th. However the first two days are for press and trade visitors only.

If you have never seen a VUN in the flesh, then EICMA will be a great place to do it. CR&S will have some beautiful examples on display. Roberto Crepaldi and other expert CR&S staff and dealers will be on hand to answer any question.

Everybody is welcome :-)

I don't have much inside information but I'm fairly sure that there will be a few new things to see for VUN owners. In any case CR&S like to put on a nice show...

Let's hope it's not too cold at this year's show.

EICMA is one huge show, one of the biggest and most important motorcycle shows in the world. For Italian motorcycle manufactures it is definitely the most important show. There will be stands from every manufacturer, for example, Ducati are expected to unveil 10 new bikes for their 2010 lineup. There will be trade stands, prototypes, parts suppliers, specialists, live shows. Like is said, it is huge.

Getting There

The address is:
SS. 33 del Sempione 28
20017 Rho (MI)

The Fiera Milano is not actually in Milan but in the satellite town of Rho, north-west of Milano.

View Larger Map
The EICMA 2009 website offers plenty of instructions on how to get there. It is nestled between two major highways and the Milano Tangenziale (ring road). It is also right next to a main rail line and the last stop of the Milan underground (red line).

There are nearby hotels where you can stay, but if you are traveling to Italy then you really want to stay in central Milan for the full experience. Just be aware that last time I went (in 2007) the police closed central Milan to all car traffic on Sunday (the last day of EICMA). It was only due to the discretion of a rather attractive young police woman that we were able to leave the city that day. They do this kind of thing from time to time and I have no idea when or how you can find out about it.

The best way to get to the showgrounds, from Milan, is probably by Metro (underground). Take the red line, direction RHO Fieramilano and get off at the last stop. This deposits you just outside the east gate of the exhibition grounds.

I probably won't be taking my bike since that would mean an alpine crossing above the snow line but if you are up to some winter riding then parking at the grounds is free for motorcycles.

Getting Around

The Fiera Milano is a huge place, 24 large halls in total. EICMA only occupies six of the large halls (pavilions 2, 4, 6, 10, 14 & 18). Get a map of the exhibition grounds. Last time we spent the whole day there and nearly missed seeing one of the large pavilions, the one exhibiting the Vyrus. It would have sucked to miss that.

Last time we made the mistake of going on Saturday. Despite the size of the place it was extremely crowded and it got worse as the day wore on. I would try going on a week day during working hours. By the way on the Friday entry is free for women (positive discrimination).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bezzi Imagines the Vòtt

Another fanciful CR&S design penned by Italian motorcycle designer Oberdan Bezzi.

This time it is the "Vòtt", meaning "eight" in Milanese dialect. As you can probably guess, the engine in this concept is a V8. The Vòtt steps in the opposite direction to the simple, single-cylinder VUN. Nevertheless it is a beautiful rendering worth adding to the catalogue of dreams.