Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lesto Racing Components

In a previous article I wrote about a new exhaust system under development for the VUN that was unveiled earlier this month at EICMA 2009. More details and photos are now available.

The entire system is being developed by Lesto Racing Components from the Lombardy region of Italy. The pipes are TIG welded from multiple sections. Lesto titanium silencers are conical with a triangular cross section, a shape designed to maximize power output.

Weight reduction, compared to the standard system, should be very good. The reduction is currently estimated to be nearly 4kg.

db Killer

The removable db killer is also triangular in profile. Noise output can be regulated by adjusting the length of the internal baffle in five different positions.

Noise reduction material is all formed from stainless steel for durability. A perforated box is packed with noise absorbant material which is restrained by a stainless steel mesh.

Still no information on when this system will be ready (soon I hope).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

More on Electric Bikes

The Voltra is a concept electric motorcycle, in the café racer style, by design student Dan Anderson of Sydney, Australia.

Faster and Faster, in an interview with Anderson, reports that ‘The bike is the result of extensive research into motorcycling history, society and culture as well as technology, materials and manufacturing.'

The Voltra is powered by Li-Ion batteries. An AC induction motor (with a programmable controller), provides 129Nm of torque and has projected top speed of more than 200km/h. The Voltra weighs 200 kilos with batteries. Anderson states the bike can be ridden for more than 90 minutes in one charge. A full recharge takes two hours.

Having such compact engines and no need for any of the piping and tubing that goes with conventional combustion engines means that electric motorcycles can have very clean lines and there is a lot of scope for rethinking the layout and appearance. Electric motorcycles must be a young designer's dream.

The limitation is still battery technology, though this is rapidly changing. Batteries are heavy and have to be large in order to give the bike a reasonable range. In this case using the carbon fiber battery box as a monocoque, connecting the steering head to the engine, is a clever idea. I also like the idea of the open triangulated tubing sub-frame and the matching design of the headlight clamp.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

DUU Insights

Moto journalist, accomplished racer, and singles enthusiast Alan Cathcart paid a lengthy visit at the CR&S stand at EICMA 2009 in Milan this month.

Alan Cathcart and Roberto Crepaldi first knew each other back in the days when CR&S successfully competed their Britten race bikes against Cathcart in European BEARS meetings in the mid '90s. Crepaldi and Cathcart have been good friends ever since.

Cathcart tests a VUN prototype (2004)

Two years ago, at a motocycle show in Padova, Roberto was discussing, with Cathcart, his plans to build a CR&S "streetfighter" but was having trouble finding a suitable engine supplier. Cathcart mentioned that US performance engine builders, S&S, were developing a new road-based big twin called the X-Wedge. Crepaldi was interested, Cathcart made the introductions and pretty soon the DUU concept was born.

Roberto Crepaldi describes the X-Wedge as an engine that is designed for the road with a feeling similar to that of a strong Moto-Guzzi.

There has already been plenty of interest in production versions of the DUU and a healthy number of pre-orders are on the books. The initial production run is planned to be 50 pieces per year. €1,000 (refundable) books you a place in the queue. Go to the CR&S website for more details.

Sidebar: Cathcart was walking on crutches at EICMA. This could explain why.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Exhaust in Development

CR&S model Ermina presents the VUN sporting prototype.

Most of the attention at the CR&S stand at EICMA 2009 was centered on the DUU, meanwhile there was an interesting new VUN on display which went almost unnoticed.

Pictured above, this VUN is fitted with many performance parts from the technical options catalog: Ceriani racing front forks, Marvic mag wheels, CDR racing single radiator, Pierobon "banana" alloy swingarm, etc. But what makes this bike really special was the new 2 into 1 exhaust system.

2 into 1 header pipes of the VUN Sporting Prototype. Moto journalist and sporting singles enthusiast, Alan Cathcart, in the background.

The new stainless steel header pipes wrap around to the right side of the VUN joining neatly underneath the alternator cover. The collector pipe is routed underneath the engine where it meets the silencer. The silencer, in turn, flows diagonally under the engine and up the other side exiting in the space provided by the banana shaped alloy swingarm.

The muffler is fitted with a removable db killer to provide extra performance.

Also seen here is a prototype of a new half-cover which cowls the oil reservoir on the left hand side and neatly directs airflow around the side stand.

LSL clip-ons have also been added for a more aggressive riding position. The entire package fits together very well giving this VUN an extremely narrow front profile.

The new exhaust is not ready for production just yet. It still requires tuning and and development of a new fuel map. I will keep you posted as more information becomes available.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The DUU at MAD

CMM: Collezione Motociclista Milanese

If you could not make it to EICMA 2009 but would still like to get a close look at the DUU prototype, it has now been put on display at the Collezione Motociclista Milanese (CMM) exhibition just outside Milan.

The CMM exhibition features over 30 iconic motorcycles (including a VUN of course). These were selected on the basis of stylistic excellence, daring design and for employing alternative technical solutions.

The VUN TT100 Celebration at CMM

The collection is housed in four large rooms:

The first is dedicated to the HRD Vincent. Here you will find beautifully restored Vincents sitting alongside special race prepared versions including the Macintosh Egli Vincent (built by Ken McIntosh in New Zealand) and the Bonneville land speed record cigar Vincent.

The second room houses the largest collection of Paton GP bikes you will find anywhere.

The third and fourth rooms feature the best examples of modern motorcycle design dating from the 1950's up to the present. Here you will find design icons such as the Bimota Tesi, Ducati 916, Gilera Saturno and the Quasar feet forward to name just a few.

MAD: Moto Arte Design

The CMM exhibition is part of the Moto Arte Design (MAD) initiative. MAD is the creation of Giovanni Cabassi. The aim of the MAD initiative is, within three years, to open a graduate school dedicated to motorcycle design. I don't have many details about this project but I will certainly be posting more information as it becomes available.

Getting There

The address is:
Milanofiori Nord
Piazza degli Incontri
Edifico U7, Sala B

Entry is free and the exhibition is open Monday to Friday from 3 to 8pm, or  Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 8pm.The exhibition closes on the 20th of December.

The best way is probably by motorbike/scooter or car if you must. From Milano take the Autostrada Milano-Genova A7; Exit the Autostrada at Assago-Milanofiori. This is the last exit before you cross the Tangenziale Ovest. If you are coming from the Tangenziale Ovest then take the exit Milano Viale Liguria to get onto the Autostrada A7 (direction Milano) then take the first exit. Once you exit the Autostrada you want to head towards UCI Cinema complex. This is located in a modern cubist-style building complex which looks something like this:

You can park at the cine-complex and walk to the exhibition (you may need to ask around to find the entrance). Here is a link to the location of the cinemas on Google Maps:

View Larger Map

Monday, November 16, 2009

The VUN Marathon Story

One of the VUNs on display at the CR&S stand at EICMA 2009 was the VUN Marathon. Claudio Zanoni rode the VUN Marathon solo from Milano to Verona, "the long way", in June 2009 by riding 17,746 km across 16 countries in 20 days.

Franco Cavina and Claudio Zanoni pose behind the road-weathered VUN Marathon at EICMA 2009

The Marathon is specially made for long distance travel. It is fitted with a 16.5L fuel tank (instead of the 12.5L standard tank), a sub-frame for carrying pannier cases, a belly pan and small front fairing and a GPS attachment.

Now CR&S and Key Frame have produced a new video documenting the inspiration and preparation for this trip (in Italian).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

EICMA Roundup: Personal View

EICMA 2009, the 67th international motorcycle show in Milan, Italy was a big event as usual. I spent 2-full days touring the 6-main halls. The show was well organized and the facilities are top notch. The numerous bars served excellent coffee and pretty decent food at reasonable prices.

The economic downturn had its impact. Some major manufacturers (Honda & Yamaha for example) were not present this year. The large spaces left by those who didn't turn up were eagerly absorbed by the multitude of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean factories selling everything from scooters to LED turn signals.


For me, the two big hits of the show were...

...the new Moto Guzzi Le Mans concept, and the new CR&S DUU prototype.

I'll be writing more about the DUU in future blog articles. The Le Mans concept is spectacular and represents something of a breakthrough in integrated motorcycle design. This is just what you would expect when two of the world's greatest designers, Pierre Terblanche and Miguel Galluzzi, are unleashed together on a blank sheet of paper.

What I hadn't expected is that it would be Moto Guzzi, not Ducati or MV Augusta, who would be unveiling the most exciting designs this year. I'd grown used to expecting the same tired old bikes from Guzzi who seemed stuck in the mold of retros that are a poor shadow of the original or clunky transverse V-twin versions of BMW's. This year's Guzzi stand then was a welcome breath of fresh air.

I can't express how pleased I am to see Terblanche, designer of the Ducati Supermono, MH 900E and 999 superbike, creating cutting-edge motorcycles once again. The Le Mans concept has a very clean and appealing overall appearance. But it is the re-thinking and integration of every tiny detail into the whole which impressed me the most. For example, using cameras and small screens instead of big clunky sticking out mirrors, the 'upside-down' monocoque alloy frame that supports the combined fairing, tank and seat unit which, in turn, can be swung open to reveal the ultra-clean component layout underneath. Very nice.

Guzzi also had on display the mouth-watering V7 Clubman Café Racer. Finally a retro that improves on the original, both technically and aesthetically.

I should stress that the Guzzi Le Mans Concept is just that, a concept. Whether it ever goes into production is up to the world economic outlook, you the motorcycle buying public, and the unpredictable whims of the Piaggio Group management.

KTM had a sporty single-cylinder naked prototype on display...

Penned by consultants Kiska Design this lightweight sports all the best equipment, from White Power shock absorbers to Brembo racing calipers and fuel injection.

Very tasty, but it's only a 125cc for the under-18's market darn it! Us 'older boys' are still forced to wrestle overpowered and overweight superbikes around the tight roads (unless you own something like a VUN of course). KTM could, but won't, produce an RC4 single cylinder version of their RC8 superbike.

BMW, of course, had their new 1000 RR superbike on display, but that really didn't interest me more than just a passing glance. I'm happy to see BMW competing in the World Superbike championships with this bike, but other than that, I'm not very interested in yet another me-too superbike.

BMW did have a pretty interesting looking 6-cylinder concept bike on display. It was interesting really only to look at and go ohhhhh. The concept of a 1.6 liter 6-cylinder modern superbike is quite ridiculous in reality. Who needs 6-cylinders with all that complexity and weight when a 165kg v-twin can put out 180hp (see Ducati 1198).


Ducati had an enormous and elaborate stand and were very proud of their new Multistrada...

click on image for a larger view

It's not my style I'm afraid. There were some upgrades to the Hypermotard and one or two other bones to chew on. The 849, 1198 superbikes were there as usual. These bikes are what they are: well designed, well made superbikes with an awesome racing heritage. But as good as they are technically, they are a rather conservative reflection of the iconic 916 designed by the legendary Tamborini in the early 1990's.

MV Augusta unveiled their new F4 superbike. Some technical changes, square pipes under the seat instead of round ones, etc. This new bike also seems to me a pale watered down version of an iconic Tamborini design from the 1990's (I'm referring to the old MV F4 of course). Pity, there was talk of a 600cc lightweight pocket rocket at one point.

Aprilia and Cagiva are also companies that have superlight real sports bikes on the drawing board but are unwilling or unable to put them into production. Instead, Aprilia have their new superbike of course and Cagiva are stuck with their 125 2-strokes.

Morini, Benelli, Harley, and pretty much everyone else didn't really have anything new to show. New colors here, a new seat design there.

Electric Anyone?

It looks like electric bikes are still not ready for the main stream. The only electric bikes on display (that I saw) were scooters and the like, or the three-wheeler from Peugeot. However I did bump into Azhar Hussain at the KTM stand on Tuesday. Azhar is the enthusiastic force behind the TTXGP electric superbike race series and the successful Mavizen electric race bike. I wrote about the Mavizen in an earlier blog article and will be writing a followup soon.

Saddest Stand in Show

Buell occupied a small corner of the Harley-Davidson stand. There were about four bikes on display and almost nobody was visiting their stand. Perhaps the public felt embarrassed for them as this week coincided with the announcement of the last Buell to roll off the assembly line.

No Shows

In addition to Honda & Yamaha both Bimota and VΨRUS were absent. Pity about VΨRUS as they have some hot new models this year that I really wanted to see.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Genesis of the DUU

This video nicely describes the conceptual differences between the CR&S VUN & the new DUU.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Haynes BMW F650 Singles

If you didn't already know it, the engine used to propel the VUN is the same one used by BMW for its range of F650 singles. Specifically, it is the twin-spark plug version of the engine used by F650 models between 1994 and 2000. The original BMW engines were fueled by twin BST constant velocity carburetors whereas the VUN is fitted with Dell'Orto electronic fuel injection.

This is one example of the sort of thing you can learn by reading the Haynes Service and Repair Manual for BMW F650 Singles.

I've always found Haynes workshop manuals to be excellently written. The instructions are good enough for even an experienced fool like me to follow.

The manual is split into logical sections: Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul, and Reference. Each section is broken down into chapters, for example under Repairs and Overhaul there are chapters on: Engine, Clutch and Transmission; Frame and Suspension; Electrical System, etc.

VUN owners will be primarily interested in the engine, clutch, transmission and ignition system chapters. The overhaul chapters explain each major operation (e.g. cylinder head overhaul) in detail breaking it down into:

  • Overview,
  • Special tools needed,
  • Removal,
  • Disassembly,
  • Inspection,
  • Reassembly,
  • Installation.
Detailed photographs and diagrams are provided all the way with step by step instructions.

The reference section at the back of the manual provides valuable general technical information on such diverse things as: reading spark plugs, fastener types, thread repair, fault finding, a technical terms glossary and so on. This section is fairly comprehensive and is very useful to non-professional hacks like me.

My VUN's warranty still has a long way to go so I am unlikely to need to overhaul my engine anytime soon. However, it would have been useful to have this manual around the day I decided to remove the oil filter cover to see what was behind it. I could have avoided spending 40 minutes cleaning up spilled oil that day (what was I thinking?).

My intention in buying this book was mainly to learn something about the internals of this engine and, in the future, how it might be modified to provide more power and less rotating mass.

I ordered my copy over the internet (how else?) from Motor Books in the UK. Their website was well setup, their price was competitive and ordering my book was straightforward. The book was well packaged and arrived in perfect condition. Delivery took nearly 3-weeks from date of order, but I should have expected that since I placed the order during a protracted postal workers strike in the UK.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Future Electric?

At first, the thought of an electric motorcycle might conjure up the image of some kind of toy motorcycle. It's time to think again...

Mavizen is the company that won this year's inaugural TTXGP race for electric motorcycles at the Isle of Mann. They have just announced the availability of kits for their new electric race bike. These kits are intended for anyone who is interested in competing in the new TTXGP world series beginning in 2010.

Frame, running gear and body panels are sourced from the KTM RC8, nice choice. There are various configurations of bike and battery pack for different racing conditions: sprint, endurance etc. Without batteries, the bike weighs 110kg so the sprint race package is probably very light.  I don't have any figures for horsepower but electric engines produce maximum torque across the entire RPM range which means it will have really good acceleration from rest.

In addition to having no exhaust pipe, there is also no clutch or gearbox. That seems kind of strange, almost weird, but I can see a day when people will stare in wonder at those funny old classic motorcycles belching fumes and propelling themselves about via a series of explosions.

No mention of price but I have a nagging feeling that this will be expensive (update: has reported that the basic price, track ready, is £25,000). However racing a conventional motorcycle is also expensive so perhaps, comparitively, it won't be too bad. I know electric bikes have nothing to do with the VUN, but I just think this is too cool.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The DUU Unveiled

CR&S have released pictures of the new DUU model which will be shown to the public, for the first time, at EICMA 2009 in Milan next week. Check this out...

CR&S partners Giovanni Cabassi, Giorgio Sarti & Roberto Crepaldi