Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fully Charged

Above is a trailer for the new Mark Neale documentary Charge. The movie is narrated by actor and motorcycle fan Ewan McGregor and documents the world’s first electric motorcycle race, the TTXGP, at the 2009 Isle of Man TT.

The movie does a great job of describing the excitement and technical challenges of producing an entirely new breed of racing motorcycles. 2010 looks like it is going to be a watershed year in terms of motorcycle technology. It now seems inevitable that electric technology will displace internal combustion engines in the coming years. Remember photographic cameras that carried rolls of film? What about cathode ray tube computer monitors and TV screens? In a decade or so I expect that exploding petrol as a means of propulsion will seem rather quaint and young kids will scratch their heads and wonder how it was ever possible.

Mavizen Factory Training and Support

Mavizen, winners of the inaugural 2009 TTXGP (electric MotoGP) race are now offering a 4-day technical training course on electric propulsion systems throughout 2010. The course compliments the TTX02 race bikes they produce that are now on sale. Course topics include: Batteries, Motors, Controllers, Chargers, Battery Management Systems, Safety Systems, Construction & Wiring Considerations. The course is currently advertized at £900 for all four days. Visit their web site for more details.

eCRP Race Bike Unveiled

Pictured left to right: Azhar Hussain (TTXGP), Lord Drayson (UK Minister for Science), Livia Cevolini (CRP), Franco Cevolini, (CRP) and Giampiero Testoni, (CRP)

CRP Racing have released details of the TTXGP electric race bike they have built based on the Mavizen TTX02 electric propulsion system...

Source TTXGP Press Release:

On January 14th Lord Drayson, UK Minister for Science and Innovation, unveiled the super sports electric motorcycle built by CRP Racing. CRP Racing is very pleased to unveil its ground-breaking motorcyle in terms of innovative technology. This has been demonstrated with the project of the bike eCRP 1.0, where the UK-based company, TTXGP, has collaborated with the Italian company CRP Racing.

eCRP 1.0 represents the Italian style and design with a strong "racing" look, easy to handle for its dimensions and shape, whose colours remind the Italian flag with the aim to promote that values leading the made-in-Italy a unique and distinctive factor.

Left: eCRP 1.0 technical specs.
click image for a larger view

For more information visit the CRP Racing web site.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Virtual VUN - Update

Above is a rendering of the latest update to the Virtual VUN project. This image adds the front instrument/fairing support shell and a partially complete sub-frame at the rear. These were added last December, just before I left Prague. Unfortunately further work on Virtual VUN is now on hold until I return from New Zealand in April.

Friday, January 15, 2010

CR&S at Verona Bike Show

If you live near Verona, Italy or happen to be passing through over the next few days then don't miss the chance to check out the CR&S stand at the Verona Motorbike Expo.

The show is open from 15th to 17th of Janary (that's now folks) and boasts 600 exhibitors, but most importantly, you will have the chance to check out CR&S VUN and DUU bikes at close range.

Deus Ex Machina

Deus Ex Machina (roughly translated "A God in the machine") presents an idyllic blend of design, urban style, cafe culture and passion for motorcycles. Passion, not just any old bike, but for motorcycles stripped down to the essence of the café racer style: hand crafted, elegant and retro but not obsolete.

Deus was founded in the Parramatta suburb of Sydney, Australia in 2005 by messers Dare Jennings, Ron Hunwick and Carby Tuckwell. Their core business is the manufacture and sale of motorcycles and parts. In addition you can find branded clothes, performance bicycle parts, books, paintings, artistic objects and generally lots of cool stuff.

Deus Grievous Angel, SR400-based single cylinder café racer.

Deus now has a branch in New Zealand. It is located in a restored warehouse off Wellesley Street in central Auckland. The large open space is divided into quarters with a stylish café at the front, a gallery area, a branded clothing outlet, and a motorcycle/bicycle parts store. Deus manufactured motorcycles are scattered throughout alongside a collection of significant and beautifully restored classic bikes.

At the back, separated from the front section by a large glass window, is the assembly area where you can watch new Deus machines being created over a lunchtime salad and cappuccino.

Any VUN owner would surely feel at home here

If you are looking for a lightweight, elegant, simple and sure handling motorbike with moderate power, or perhaps just a cool place to hang, meet friends and soak in some culture, then head down to Deus Ex Machina. They have major stores in Sydney and Auckland plus smaller outlets in Melbourne, Los Angeles and Milano, or just check out their wonderful web-site.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Roadson BT550 Superleggera

Only 97 kg 'wet' (including oil and water), this 550cc 4-stroke v-twin race bike has been developed by French specialists Roadson, formerly known as 'Tuscon' (it's a long story involving corporate lawyers).

As you may have guessed already, this little beauty is powered by Aprilia's extremely light and compact 77° v-twin. This engine has seen great success on their multi-championship winning RXV motocross bikes.

77° V twin four-stroke. Liquid cooled. Single overhead cam with rocker operated exhaust valves. 4 valve heads with titanium valves.

In my opinion this is the best 4-stroke motorcycle engine ever made. At 33kg, 42 cm long, 43 high, 29 wide, and 70 hp it is the perfect compromise between weight, complexity, size and horsepower. So it is a pity that nobody has had the foresight to make use of it in a road legal, superlight sportsbike. I guess that Aprilia are simply not interested in undermining their high profit, but unusable, hyper-bikes by producing a small capacity sports bike at half the cost that is more fun to ride and would spank any large capacity superbike on a winding road (end of rant).

Kudos then to engineer and owner Jeff Robert and the team at Bako Design for seeing the potential of exploiting such a compact engine. They have created a racer with 125 GP dimensions that is quick enough to compete against much more powerful Ducati and Aprilia superbikes the pro-twins race series.

Jeff Robert:

"We have used the fact the the rear cylinder is not in the middle of the bike, but on the right side to place here the rear suspension. The front the cylinder is on the left, (because the 2 connecting rods are side by side). [Here] we used the free [space] to put the battery. So most of the weight (engine battery and shocks) is in the center of the bike. We also put the tank under the [rider]."

"Tires are another cornerstone of our project. With narrow (125 GP) tires, we reduce the frontal area and therefore drag. But that's not all. They reduce the rotating mass and gyroscopic effect. Mounted on narrow and lightweight wheels, they help improve maneuverability and acceleration of the bike."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dream Ducatis

This is a conceptual Ducati Supermono 599 by Australian designer Dan Anderson. It uses a single-cylinder, 4-valve, water-cooled Ducati engine a-la Ducati Supermono.

This gives you a good idea of the kind of beautiful, superlight, sporting single that Ducati 'could' be making. Unfortunately, they chose instead, to design the 'Beaked Avenger' (aka Multistrada 1200), and are rumored to be working on a new cruiser.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hic Sunt Leones

Another masterful Key Frame production from the CR&S video gallery. This video documents the ten day 4,500km journey of eight VUNIC members to Tunisia and Libya in May 2009.

In ancient maps from the Roman era, African regions about which there was no information were identified by the Latin inscription HIC SUNT LEONES (here there be lions).