Bikes in Bangkok
The Bangkok International Motor show 2007
also has a separate section for motorcycles. Knowing that a
fair number of car enthusiasts have a more than passing
interest in motorcycles, and another fair number of
motorcycle enthusiasts read this column, I asked my
motorcycle mate Alan Coates to cover the bikes. Here is his
In general, the major Japanese and German manufactures
presented a very different line-up of motorcycles from last
year. Gone were the mega muscle bikes and monster engined
cruisers of last year and also missing entirely was a
presentation from the local Tiger concern.
Concept Motorcycle. For my money, star of the show was
the mouth watering concept machine shown centre stage by
Suzuki. This had a six cylinder engine across the frame, a
very neat six into one exhaust system with a tiny silencer.
Styled in a manner reminiscent of the Suzuki Katana’s of the
80’s this version had ABS among the more obvious features.
Capacity, at least 1,000 cc, but likely to be 1300 cc to
replace the aging Hyabusa in the Suzuki range.
GSX-R1000 - Sport. Suzuki’s most popular sports bike. Suzuki
has never made a bad GSX-R1000, their flagship superbike,
and they still haven’t. The GSX-R’s advanced fuel-injected,
liquid-cooled, 16-valve four-cylinder engine provides class
leading power, up 7 bhp to 185 bhp and it’s reported to now
be even easier to handle than ever. Three engine power
settings are available at the flick of a switch for any road
conditions. Twin pipes mean greater balance and lower centre
of gravity, whilst adjustable pegs create a better riding
position. To help the chassis control the massive amount of
power on tap, the GSX-R1000 features an integral steering
damper as standard. There are the usual popular accessories
available as optional extras.
FZ1 Fazer 1000 cc - All Rounder. The engine powering the
Fazer is from their R1, which is 1000cc liquid cooled
4-cylinder. Yamaha market this machine as an all rounder,
capable of going to work – and back journeys as well as
distance touring. With a power output of 110 kW at 11,000
rpm the Fazer is certainly powerful enough to also be termed
a performance sports bike. Maximum torque is delivered at
8,000 rpm suggesting that this motor needs to be revved hard
for best performance. Yamaha’s website indicates a
mini-fairing / screen is available as an optional extra, a
very necessary option for any kind of high speed touring.
Other optional extras are plentiful and include ABS.
FJR 1300 Tourer. Yamaha’s flagship tourer for some time now
and is relatively unchanged for 2007. The same engine
configuration (liquid cooled, 4 cylinder) is in line with
Yamahas practice. Features that are appropriate for a big
capacity, long distance tourer include an adjustable screen,
ABS brakes, heated handlebars (well, not in Thailand) and
generous panniers. A large capacity top box is an optional
extra. The big motor does not need the same number of gears
and a five speed box is fitted. Shaft drive is a definite
plus and the tank has a useful 25 litre capacity.
YZF-R1 Sports. Yamaha market the R1 with “State Of The Art
Race Technology”. The latest R1 is packed with technology
inspired by the YZR-M1 MotoGP bike plus the all-new YCC-I
system (Yamaha Chip Controlled - Intake) air funnels for
more performance across the rev range. It also has Yamaha
Chip Controlled – Throttle, utilizing state-of-the-art
electronics. Also new for 2007 is a new 16-valve engine, a
brand-new Deltabox frame and new bodywork. All of this means
that the R1 is turned out with many race bred enhancements,
a power output of 180 bhp, 6-pot callipers up front to
control retardation and a slipper clutch to avoid locking up
the rear end under quick downshifts and hard braking.
Vulcan 900 Custom. The largest custom cruiser at the
show this year. Kawasaki has taken the tried and tested
VN900 Classic and made a full-on custom bike for those who
desire the chopper-inspired stripped-down look. Significant
changes include a retro-style muffler that meets 21st
century regulations while looking good with lots of chrome.
Also changed to enhance the “chopper” image is the 21 inch
front wheel. Technical specifications remain unchanged and
the 903 cc V-twin 4-stroke engine churns out 40kW at 6,000
Ninja ZX-6R. An all-new engine; an all-new chassis;
race-driven parts. These are some of the key features of the
new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R. This machine is designed and
engineered in an attempt to produce the best ever
supersports Ninja for the 600cc class. The focus is for an
all-new 599cc model built to dominate the race track.
Apparently, the Ninja ZX-6R’s all-new ultra-high-rpm engine
with polished intake ports churns out more mid-range torque
than its predecessors. The result is a nice fat power band
with a linear power curve, for hard-hitting acceleration
across the rev range. They claim that no other machine revs
higher than the new Ninja ZX-6R. Chassis development has
focused on a compact, lightweight package to give high
corner speeds and controllability. To this end radial
mounted brakes are fitted as is a slipper clutch. Front and
rear suspension settings are fully adjustable.
(Thank you Alan, for that very detailed report. The second
half of Bikes in Bangkok will be published next week. Dr.
BMW introduces energy
The new BMW 1 Series is the most fuel efficient production
vehicle BMW has ever produced. This has been achieved
through technologies such as Brake Energy Regeneration,
Automatic Start-Stop function and Electric Power Steering
combined with lower rolling resistant tyres and a gearshift
change indicator to encourage economical motoring.
BMW 1 Series
The BMW 118d (“d” stands for diesel)
records 60.1 mpg figure courtesy of these features in
conjunction with the use of further lightweight engineering.
The car now even has an aluminium crankcase to save weight.
Brake Energy Regeneration (iGR) makes its debut on the 1
Series. This system uses an Intelligent Alternator Control
(IAC) and an Absorbent Glass Mat battery to recycle
previously lost energy, in turn saving fuel. This is
achieved as the IAC reduces drag on the engine by only
engaging when required to charge the battery, where a
traditional alternator is always pulling power from the
engine. Additionally, the energy generated by the engine on
over-run (under braking or descending a hill) is utilized by
the IAC to charge the battery. iGR alone is responsible for
a three percent improvement in fuel economy.
The Automatic Start-Stop function also cuts fuel
consumption. The system automatically switches the engine
off when the vehicle is stationary and the driver puts the
car into neutral. To restart the driver only need engage the
clutch again before pulling away in the normal manner. If
this sounds like a hassle, BMW supply a switch so you can
turn it off!
Electric Power Steering results in a 90 percent energy
saving compared to a conventional mechanical hydraulic
steering system. Power assistance is now provided by an
electric motor that works only when required, such as
turning a corner.
Unfortunately, all these fuel saving (and running-cost
saving) technologies cost more money at the point of
purchase. There’s still no free lunch!
Last week I asked how much the Jaguar XJ
3.4 could be purchased ex-works for in 1978? To the nearest
thousand pounds would have been fine! It was 8,174 pounds.
So to this week. Hill climbing is a very specialized sport,
in which one cannot make any mistakes, as you are racing
against the clock, rather than other competitors. The first
driver to be killed in practice for a hill climb was in
1900. The first driver to be killed during a hill climb was
in 1903, and both were at the same venue. What was this
course? Clue: Chitty Chitty Bang Bangs!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email email@example.com
Next GP in two weeks
It seems a long time since the Bahrain
GP, but for most of the teams, they need this extra
development time. Teams such as Honda Racing look like they
are going to need two years, not two weeks to try and
produce a competitive car. 2007 is yet another year’s F1
championship that will elude Jenson Button, I’m afraid.
Being the Spanish GP, there will be extra pressure on
current world champion Fernando Alonso to perform, even more
than Ron Dennis will have been applying. In front of his own
countrymen, Alonso has much to lose, and not just to
Ferrari, but to his tyro team mate Lewis Hamilton.
When will Hamilton win his first GP? I will predict it will
be Monaco! He is not fazed by circuits. He is fast and
accurate and not prone to lapses of concentration. But no,
I’m not putting money on it. I’ve been involved in motor
racing too long to fall for that one.
Red Bull will have spent the past two weeks trying how to
keep the fuel filler flap closed. This item has come open
three times in three GPs, and Mr Webber is getting a trifle
testy about it. Unfortunately these vehicles are so
susceptible to aerodynamic factors, that when the filler
flap opens it destroys the air flow over the rear wing, and
the increased ‘drag’ factor knocks the top speed down.
Ferrari will also have been doing their homework, with much
of it at their own private test track. They will not be
coming to Spain with experimental parts, hoping that they
will work. This is one of the reasons why Ferrari have
incredibly good reliability. They have tested every part of
the car and know its ‘life’. They did admit they have
several new items to try, and they will all have been tried
and tested before arriving at the Circuit of Catalunya in
As usual, I will be watching with the other F1 enthusiasts,
at Jameson’s Irish Pub, Soi AR, next to Nova Park. The main
race starts at 7 p.m. our time, come along and join me for
dinner and a drink and then watch the GP. We watch the South
African feed, which means we get Messrs Allen and Brundle as
commentators, rather than the inane telly-bletherers on UBC