Motorcycle Live

Motorcycle Live: Aprilia RS 660 concept

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Meet the Aprilia RS 660 concept, a mid-weight sportsbike prototype from the Noale-based motorcycle manufacturer.

Details are scarce, but Aprilia has revealed some insights into the new RS 660, which Aprilia says is for a ‘new generation of riders looking to fulfil thrills on the road as well as on the occasional track day’.

Aprilia says the 660 is a parallel twin unit derived from the 1100cc that powered the Tuono 1100 and the RSV4 1100 Factory. Aprilia says this configuration was chosen for its compact nature and efficiency, the extremely low level of heat transmitted to the rider and for the freedom it gives its designers to create a sleek and lightweight frame and suspension.

The engine is mated to an aluminium frame and swingarm that helps keep the weight down, and the engine is used as a stress member of the frame. Other noticeable features include the curved shape of the right side of the swingarm, which allows for cleaner exhaust routing, and lack of linkage between the shock absorber and swingarm.

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Motorcycle Live: Panigale V4R breaks cover

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So, the covers are off, the manufacturers have made their move and Ducati has blown everyone out of the water with the Panigale V4R, its WSBK homologation special.

WSBK is a production-based race series, which sees tweaked versions of the actual bikes you can go and buy race against one another in competition – and this is why the V4R exists; to allow Ducati to take the WSBK fight to Kawasaki and wrestle the title out of the hands of the all-conquering Johnny Rea.

The new Panigale V4R runs a 998cc version of the Desmosedici Stradale 90-degree V4, with the stroke shortened from 53.5 mm to 48.4 mm, and the 81 mm bore untouched, essentially taking an extremely oversquare and rev-focused motor and making it significantly more oversquare and revvy.

The engine internals have also lost a fair bit of weight: the pistons are forged, with just two piston rings (one for compression, the other an oil scraper) and the crankshaft, high-lift valves and con rods are titanium. The crank alone saves an astonishing 1.1kg over the version used in the1103cc bikes, whereas the con rods save 100g each.

So as well as having less distance to travel with each revolution thanks to the shorter stroke, there’s significantly less mass to move as well. That means Ducati can rev this thing much higher than the 1103cc version: the V4S revs to 13,000rpm, and the R version keeps on pulling, up to a crazy 15,250rpm.

So the new R bike loses torque, which drops from a peak of 124Nm in the S bike down to 114Nm in the R, but gains significant horsepower at the top of its new stratospheric rev range: while the S bike makes 214bhp, the R boosts this to 221 in fully road-legal trim. Bin the legal cans for the Performance kit from Akrapovic and that horsepower figure leaps to 234 ponies.

The bodywork is notably different too, thanks to the gills on the side fairings, as well as the silver rear of the tank, the overall larger and higher front fairing and those black carbon winglets behind the headlights.

Ducati, of course, was the first manufacturer to push winglet technology in MotoGP, and even though that series has banned them, WSBK continues to allow their use.

Other stand out features include the Brembo Stylema brakes, traction, wheelie and control, cornering ABS Evo, up/down quickshifting, engine brake control, three riding modes, pit lane limiter, lap timing, data analysis and multimedia Bluetooth systems.

Motorcycle Live – what a show

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I’ve spent the day at Motorcycle Live and I’ve got to say the atmosphere was electric – seems that the latest sportsbike offerings have captivated the public’s imagination.

Crowds flocked to savour the Honda RC213V-S, Kawasaki H2 and H2R and Ducati’s Panigale R. However, by far the biggest draw at the show was Yamaha’s new R1, which looks a lot better up close in the metal than it did when it was unveiled at EICMA in Milan.

Granted, sportsbikes may not be to everyone’s taste, but these state-of-the-art flagships are the bikes we all aspire to, whether we’re cruiser, naked or adventure bike riders, and these new models have generated a positive vibe throughout the biking world.

However, the bike of the show for me wasn’t a bike from Japan’s or Europe’s finest – the star attraction for me was the Harley-Davidson XR1200TT by Shaw Speed & amp…just look at those pipes.