Month: April 2016

Used test: BMW S1000RR

BMW’s litre bike took the class by storm when it was introduced in 2009, effectively reinvigorating sportsbikes and moving the game on substantially.

The bike was updated in 2012, and this is the bike we’re testing here. It’s well specced – Race ABS, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and Gear Shift Assist comes as standard, and this one even has heated grips. Heated grips on a sportsbike? Yes, don’t knock them until you’ve tried them– toasty hands make a huge difference to your comfort and concentration levels this time of year.

The original bike was launched in a range of colours, including a very pale yellow and a lurid ‘piss’ green, but BMW reigned back the colour palette and this bike looks stunning in its red, white and black paint. Other subtle changes that show this is the ‘updated’ bike include minor changes to the asymmetrical side panels, the two winglets on the top part of the panels and the side aperture grills on the centre airbox cover.

This is a bike that looks rapid, even stood still, and it has a menacing, purposeful edge to its styling. Yes, it’s a rocketship on the move, but it’s also a comfortable bike you could ride every day.

The sophisticated electronics and rider aids mean it has never been easier to ride a 193bhp sportsbike. The engine is silky smooth, but accelerates rapidly, brutally even, with the twist of the throttle. And the dynamic traction control (DTC) works faultlessly, seamlessly adjusting engine torque to the current level of grip for optimum traction out of every corner.

This bike feels fresher than the first generation bike, and this is because BMW’s engineers tweaked its powerplant to provide a punchier power buildup and a more sensitive response. This, when combined with changes to the handling have created a bike that is even more precise and agile than its predecessor. A lot of this is down to the new suspension – the upside down fork and the spring strut feature a new internal structure, which provide an even wider range of damping forces from comfort to performance. This, when combined with changes to the suspension’s geometry – steering head angle, offset, position of the swingarm pivot, fork projection, and spring strut length – allow this RR to steer accurately, predictably holding a line through corners, time after time.

But the changes don’t stop there, and on the move your eyes will be drawn to the updated clocks, which are intuitive and easy to read. There’s now a “Best lap in progress” function, and if required, “Speedwarning” can inform the rider when he exceeds a particular speed.

Living with this bike for a week has proved just what a capable all-rounder it is. The fairing is effective at keeping the elements at bay, and it’s all-day comfortable. This BMW has that Honda feeling about it – everything fits and falls to hand easily and it just feels right.
It will happily sit on the motorway all day, grinding out the miles, and you know full well that the electronics will be working overtime to keep you safe. Yet, get to your destination, leave the motorway and hit the good stuff and it will suddenly come alive, urging you to attack the bends with ever greater confidence. It’s so easy to tip in, and it’s so precise, that it feels like the bike is part of you, and that it’s being guided by your thoughts alone. It’s awe-inspiring.

And the build quality seems flawless. This has been ridden hard in some shitty conditions – rain, snow, mud strewn roads – and has covered 1200 miles in our short time together, but after a thorough going over with the jetwash it’s come up as good as new.

In fact the only downside to any potential buyer is that it seems to be holding its price well. Try one for yourself and you’ll quickly discover why. This may be the greatest all-rounder ever. Fact.




Road racing – Honda duo set for roads campaign

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Honda Racing’s John McGuinness and Conor Cummins have been in action this week with a two-day test at Castle Combe in preparation for the start of their road-racing season.

The first day of the test saw the Honda squad greeted with mixed weather conditions, but inbetween the snow and rain showers the team were able to gain good track time. Wednesday saw a full day on track, where McGuinness and Cummins were able to try different settings on their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines.

Both riders tested different tyre compounds, electronics and suspension options to fine-tune settings ahead of the upcoming North West 200, which is being held from May 10 to 14.

Many racers regard Castle Combe as the perfect testing ground for the road racing season, thanks in part to its bumpy surface.

McGuinness, who is looking to add to his haul of 23 TT wins, said: “It has been a really solid test this week we had a few things to work through, which we managed and it’s all been really positive.

“It’s the same CBR I love and adore, but we can’t stand still as the competition is really strong so we have to make a few small changes here and there so we’re ready. I’m feeling great at the moment and I’ve been faster here than ever before, so I’m feeling really confident. I’ve got a great package with the team, the CBR and there’s no reason not to bring any trophies home this year.”

Tesm-mate Conor Cummins admitted the test had been hard work as the team looked to get a decent base setting for his assault on the roads. He said: “We had quite a bit to work through over the test with different settings for the electronics, engine and also the suspension but I’m leaving here quietly confident with what we’ve achieved, and just can’t wait to get racing now.”


Ten things I’ve learnt from a nine-hour, 400-mile round trip to Bristol

Aprilia MOT pass

01) Our roads are shocking, really fucking shocking. Massive potholes, cracks, poor surfaces, gravel – they need sorting out. Fast.

02) It’s still way too cold for vented leathers.

03) The Factory’s Akras sound like victory…boooooooom, braaaaaaap, baaaaaaang.

04) The amount of drivers using their phone behind the wheel is frightening.

05) Aching knees, wrists and necks mean I’m getting old, but the lack of thermals means I’m not getting wiser.

06) The first scraaaaaaaape of slider on tarmac of the year still brings a MASSIVE smile to my face.

07) Chicks dig wheelies.

08) I’d forgotten how good fish finger sandwiches are.

09) There’s A LOT of blood when you strike a pigeon.

10) Little Chef lollies do strange things to grown men…

MotoGP – Doctor dominates Jerez


VALENTINO ROSSI ITA MOVISTAR YAMAHA MotoGP YAMAHA MotoGP GP Spain 2016 (Circuit Jerez) 22-24/04.2016 photo: MICHELIN

Yamaha Factory rider Valentino Rossi rolled back the years and highlighted why he is the most successful rider at Jerez, riding one of the strongest races of his career to receive a standing ovation as he jumped onto the top step of the podium for the Gran Premio de España.

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team dominated the scenes in Spain, with Rossi and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo qualifying in first and second place of the grid.

Starting from pole the nine-time world champion had a strong start and took the holeshot with his team-mate following his every move like a shadow. Two laps of tense racing action followed as they pushed each other to the limit. Rossi tried to make his YZR-M1 as wide as possible as Lorenzo tried to steal the lead. He enjoyed success, briefly, but Rossi immediately struck back, recapturing the lead.

Realising the threat that was coming from behind, the Doctor dropped the fastest lap of the race on lap three, a 1’40.090s, and created a 0.7s gap to Lorenzo and Marquez.

With clear track in front of him and behind him, Rossi put the hammer down and checked out.

Determined to look after his tyres, the Italian lowered his pace a little in the final stages of the race, yet made sure to keep enough space between him and Lorenzo by responding in the right moments, taking the chequered flag 2.386s ahead his closest rival to claim the 113th career victory.

Rossi said: “I hoped I could be strong in Jerez this year, because last year I struggled a lot, so for me it was great, and I think that this was the perfect weekend.

“We started to go faster from Friday morning and we worked very well. The bike, in the race, was fantastic and we worked very well with the team so I have to say “thank you” to the whole Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team, especially my crew.

“I had a good pace and a good start and felt good with the bike from the beginning, so I could push. This victory was very important because it arrived at the right moment; it is a really important victory, starting from the beginning right to the end, so it was great!”

Rossi remains in third position with his first place podium finish, now on 58 points and seven points behind Lorenzo, who is in second place with a total of 65 points, 17 behind Marquez in the championship standings.

The team will be back on track tomorrow at the Circuito de Jerez for a one-day test.


First test – Arai RX7 V


I’ve just done a 400-mile round trip to Bristol in the new Arai RX7-V in very changeable conditions, and first impressions are favourable.

The trip meant some nine hours in the saddle, and the Arai excelled throughout. It didn’t fog in the freezing and cold conditions in the morning, the powerful vents doing a good job of keeping air circulating throughout the lid. They’re easy to sue with gloves, and have a decent level of control from slight flow to full flow.

It’s comfy too – despite the fit of the new shell and lining making it feel snugger than its predecessor, there are no pinch points, no marks on my head; it just fits.

The lining itself is supremely comfortable, with no itches, and the field of vision is excellent, easily allowing you to see what’s going on around you.

But it’s the little things that stand out. The new catch on the visor makes it easier to operate, and the chin curtain makes a decent job of keeping noise down.
We’ll report back in another four weeks with a thorough review…

MotoGP – The Doctor delivers pole in Jerez

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Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo fought a nail-bitingly tense duel for pole position, taking first and second respectively during qualifying at Jerez.

Rossi looked in scintillating form all day, recording the fastest time, a low 1’49s lap, in FP3 this morning, and as the last rider to take to the track at the start of QP2, he had clear tarmac in front of him and was out of the box. His first flying lap of 1’39.761s gave him initial third place.

Over his next few attempts he improved his time to a 1’39.463s but he remained in provisional third position as he headed into the pits with five-and-a-half minutes remaining.

Less than a minute later the Doctor was back on his way and ready to step up his pace. Despite there only being a few minutes left of the session he was not rushed by the clock and calmly waited until after the flag had already come out to drop into the 1’38s with a 1’38.736 and take his first pole position since last year’s Dutch Grand Prix in Assen.

The Doctor said: “We worked a lot because last year we struggled during qualifying. This year, with the Michelin tyres, I feel better and I already started on the front row two times, but pole position is something different, especially here in Jerez. I knew I could be competitive, but during the last races we had some problems and I made a mistake in Austin. We didn’t take the results we expected, so we have to start doing so now. For sure tomorrow will be very hard with Lorenzo and Marquez, but we are there and we can fight.”

This pole put Rossi in joint first place with team-mate Lorenzo in the most pole position rankings, as they both hold 62 first place Grand Prix starts over all classes.


Qualifying 2:

  1. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 38.736s [Lap 8/8] 287km/h (Top Speed)
  2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 38.858s +0.122s [6/8] 288km/h
  3. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 38.891s +0.155s [8/8] 286km/h
  4. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP) 1m 39.580s +0.844s [7/8] 292km/h
  5. Maverick Viñales ESP Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 1m 39.581s +0.845s [8/8] 285km/h
  6. Aleix Espargaro ESP Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 1m 39.588s +0.852s [7/7] 282km/h
  7. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 39.678s +0.942s [7/8] 287km/h
  8. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 39.720s +0.984s [7/8] 288km/h
  9. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 39.742s +1.006s [6/8] 290km/h
  10. Cal Crutchlow GBR LCR Honda (RC213V) 1m 39.881s +1.145s [6/8] 287km/h
  11. Andrea Iannone ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP) 1m 40.054s +1.318s [6/6] 294km/h
  12. Loris Baz FRA Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 40.184s +1.448s [5/5] 284km/h


Qualifying 1:

  1. Alvaro Bautista ESP Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 1m 40.239s 285km/h
  2. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 40.242s 287km/h
  3. Eugene Laverty IRL Aspar MotoGP Team (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 40.292s 287km/h
  4. Yonny Hernandez COL Aspar MotoGP Team (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 40.335s 287km/h
  5. Scott Redding GBR Octo Pramac Yakhnich (Desmosedici GP15) 1m 40.595s 288km/h
  6. Stefan Bradl GER Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 1m 40.835s 281km/h
  7. Jack Miller AUS Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS (RC213V) 1m 40.968s 284km/h
  8. Michele Pirro ITA Octo Pramac Yakhnich (Desmosedici GP15) 1m 40.985s 289km/h
  9. Tito Rabat ESP Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS (RC213V)* 1m 41.039s 280km/h


Tested – Aprila RS125


Aprilia’s RS125 is right up there with some of the best bikes I’ve ever ridden – in the top three definitely – and rightly so. You’ll struggle to discover a bike that leaves you grinning as much as this little pocket rocket.

Aprilia ruled the roost in small capacity racing for years, dominating the smaller classes, and this bike is rammed full of the lessons they’ve learnt on the track. It’s light, agile and achingly good looking.

The RS125’s single cylinder engine may only pump out just shy of 15hp in restricted form, but it’s still an intoxicating ride. The lack of power means you’ll try and keep it in the sweet spot as much as possible – the secret to riding this bike is all about working up through the slick gearbox as quickly as possible and keeping the momentum going, and this essentially means that you’ll spend most of the time with the throttle pinned and trying to use the brakes as little as possible.

The lack of power may make overtakes on the motorway a struggle, but away from fast, straight roads the RS125 can hold its own. The chassis is truly amazing – easily capable of handling double the power – and the bike is among the world’s best handling bikes. It’s sublime on the move and corners predictably and precisely, allowing you to confidently attack bend after bend after bend.

And should things even threaten to get out of hand the RS125’s brakes have plenty of bite and feel, bringing things to a controlled halt quickly. That feel and poise is partly down to the quality components, in this case the beefy 40mm upside down forks and the radial caliper at the front.

The attention to detail on the bike is amazing, and the semi-digital dash and the styling give it a proper ‘big bike’ feel. If you’re ever lucky enough to try one on your favourite back roads you’ll be hooked – I am.

MotoGP – Lorenzo pens two-year Ducati deal


Ducati has announced that reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo has signed a two-year deal to ride for the Italian Factory team.

“Ducati announces that it has reached an agreement with Jorge Lorenzo whereby the Spaniard will compete in the MotoGP World Championship in 2017 and 2018 on the Ducati Desmosedici GP Ducati Team. Lorenzo was born in Palma de Mallorca 4 May 1987, in his sporting career he won five championship titles in MotoGP (250cc in 2006 and 2007 and in MotoGP in 2010, 2012 and 2015).”

The latest round of MotoGP musical chairs means there is now a Yamaha Factory seat up for grabs, with the smart money on Maverick Vinales to make the move. And it is still unclear who will partner Lorenzo in the Ducati hot seat, although Andrea Iannone is thought to be favourite to retain his ride.

MotoGP – Lorenzo set to leave Yamaha at end of season

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. has announced that its partnership with Jorge Lorenzo will be discontinued at the close of the 2016 MotoGP season, when Lorenzo will move on to new racing challenges.

Since Lorenzo joined the Yamaha Factory Racing Team in 2008, Lorenzo and Yamaha won three MotoGP World Championships (2010, 2012 and 2015), clinched 41 race wins and have been on the podium 99 times out of 141 races contested.

A statement from the manufacturer stated: “Yamaha is extremely grateful for Jorge’s contributions to its racing successes and looks forward to sharing more memorable moments during the remaining 15 MotoGP rounds of 2016, their ninth season together.

“Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. wishes Lorenzo the very best in his future racing endeavours and reconfirms the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team‘s full support on his campaign to achieve his fourth MotoGP title.

“Having already reconfirmed Valentino Rossi for 2017-18, Yamaha will announce the future Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team riders‘ line-up in due course after securing the services of the second rider.”

The news means Lorenzo will be unveiled as a Ducati rider very soon.

New – Wolf Racing-K 1-pc leathers

Wolf Racing-K 1pc Suit 1 copy

These subtle leathers are from Wolf, the British brand that is being relaunched for2016.

Made from a mixture of cow and kangaroo leather, the Racing-K is only available in black – a very understated and stealthy look that many manufacturers seem to have moved away from in recent times.

The leather used is 60 per cent cow hide and 40 per cent kangaroo, a material which more and more manufacturers are embracing as it’s stronger and offers greater flexibility than cow hide. It’s also supple too – essential for getting a snug but comfy fit.

This flexibiity is a key feature of the Racing-K. There are well-placed stretch panels on both sides of the ribcage and behind each arm, and these allow a greater degree of movement when on the bike. Wolf claim these stretch panels allow up to two inches of added flexibility – a welcome feature if you wear a back and chest protector.

Needless to say the suit boasts a plethora of protection including heavy-duty external slides on the elbows, shoulders and knees, which are designed to allow the rider to slide rather than dig in and cartwheel in the event of a crash – this is a key feature in preventing breaks.

Other features include vented panel on the torso and thighs, and Union flag graphics on the elasticated stretch panels above the knee and on the back.