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fhraregeeoru New bikes///ModerN legeNds///used Metal

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suzuki + the

rgv

10 best 250s ever

675

the iNcredible

fa tion sec t your

r uicke ade q m e bik your

boorsange + midarsets re est t

best trade kwak in the ever cbr600

ÂŁ3.75

feb 2009 usa $8.95

MeNtal! adjustable, coMfortable, practical aNd...

britain’s most useful hooligan motorcycles revealed

p1 PB feb Front coverPDp copy.in1 1

17/12/08 17:50:49


Nineties v noughties 1990 KawasaKi KR-1S PRICE £3549 ENGINE 249cc liquid-cooled two-stroke parallel twin with KIPS POWER(CLAIMED) 59bhp@10,500rpm TORQUE (CLAIMED) 29.7lb.ft@10,500rpm WEIGHT(CLAIMED) 131kg FRONT SUSPENSION 39mm preload adjustable forks REAR SUSPENSION Monoshock, fully adjustable RAKE/TRAIL 24°/90mm WHEELBASE 1365mm FRONT BRAKE 2 x 300mm with fourpiston calipers PB LIKES Handling, brakes, noise, feel, smell, heritage, 8500rpm kick in the pants PB DOESN’T LIKE The fact it’ll go bang

THIS IS KaWaSaKI’S laST GREaT 250 THIS IS THEIR laTEST EffoRT

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p6-8 PB feb news openerCDP.sp co6 6

17/12/08 20:49:59


SO hOw fAR hAvE 250s cOME? words matt wildee Pics rory game

Kawasaki’s KR-1S is one of the greatest small sportsbikes ever made. Light, crude, snappy and with enough power to embarrass the corpulent superbikes that ruled the early 90s. It powered lairy road riders and psychotic club racers to glory and made everything else look fat and overblown. A hard act to follow. And now Kawasaki have the Ninja 250. It carries the ‘Ninja’ tag (Kawasaki’s sportsbike label since 1984) and has sharp, modern styling. But it’s based on the ancient GPX250 – a bike that predates even the KR1S, and costs the same as the KR did 20 years ago. It’s a proven package, but is it any good? Ó Ó Ó

2009 KawasaKi ninja 250R PRiCE £3428 EnGinE 249cc liquid-cooled parallel twin POWER(CLaiMED) 32.5bhp@10,500rpm TORQUE (CLaiMED) 16lb.ft@10,000rpm WEiGHT(CLaiMED) 151kg FROnT SUSPEnSiOn 37mm forks REaR SUSPEnSiOn Monoshock, preload adjustable RaKE/TRaiL 26°/82mm WHEELBaSE 1400mm FROnTBRaKE 1 x 290mm with twopiston sliding caliper PB LiKES Easy balance, simplicity, comfort, dependability PB DOESn’T LiKE Unlikely to set your trousers on fire

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p6-8 PB feb news openerCDP.sp co7 7

17/12/08 20:50:03


Triumph Daytona 675

Japanese firms update their sportsbikes every two years. Triumph’s Daytona 675 is three years old and the new model barely looks different.

will a few changes keep the 675 up front?

TRIUMPH DAYTONA 675

PRICE £7589 ENGINE 675cc 12-valve triple BORE x STROKE 74.0 x 52.3mm POWER (CLAIMED) 126bhp @ 12,600rpm TORQUE (CLAIMED) 54lb.ft @ 11,750rpm FRONT SUSPENSION 41mm usd forks, fully adjustable REAR SUSPENSION Monoshock, fully adjustable RAKE/TRAIL 23.9°/89mm WHEELBASE 1395mm DRY WEIGHT (CLAIMED) 163kg FUEL CAPACITY 17.4mm

woRDs matt wildee PIcs triumph

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p14-19 PB feb new bikesCDP.sp co14 14

19/12/08 14:41:18


‘There are over 50 changes. are They enough?’

tune up or all new?

Not new, but it has been tweaked. Triumph say they’ve got more top end power ( 3bhp) but also improved midrange power too. There’s no new radical thinking – it’s basically had a tune. New exhaust ports and exhaust headers work together to smooth gasflow; it has a new longer-duration camshaft to reduce valve acceleration, plus new valves with narrower seats. The 675 uses shorter inlet trumpets in the airbox (taken from Triumph’s experience with racing) to boost top-end power. Updated, 15 per cent faster software, which has been tweaked to refine low-speed fuelling, now controls the 44mm Keihin throttle bodies. The rev-limit has been raised from 13,500rpm to 13,900rpm and the 675 has been fitted with stronger rods to cope with the extra engine output. Look at the power curves of the old and the new bike and the new one holds onto its power for longer. There’s also been a weight-saving regime – the exhaust system is 1.5kg lighter, and nearly 300g is saved with a magnesium cam cover. In short, the Daytona’s powerplant is lighter, revs higher, has more midrange and possibly nicer fuelling. This can only be good. and the chassis?

triumph’s revised contender

The original Daytona 675 is one of PB’s favourite bikes. Nimble, agile and sweetsteering, it combines a brilliant chassis with a characterful, useful motor that pulls harder, lower than anything else in its class. We love it for its looks, its pace, and despite being screwed together by people called Simon or Trevor in a Midlands town, it forces the cream of the Japanese motorcycle industry to try just that little bit harder. However life isn’t easy for the Daytona. The 675 triple competes on the racetracks and in the showrooms against biennially-updated 600cc fours, and now, coming into its fourth year, the Daytona has been updated. If the Daytona were a Japanese bike we’d probably be looking at a completely different model by now, complete with new graphics, electronic gizmos and new styling based on the blade of a ceremonial sword. But blink and you might fail to spot the difference between the old bike and the new one. Triumph say there are over 50 changes to the new bike. It has 3bhp more and weighs 3kg less. But is it enough to keep the Daytona desirable in the busy supersports sector?

Geometry frame and swingarm stay the same. The big change is the introduction of Kayaba suspension with high and low-speed compression damping. This isn’t a new thing (the 2006 R6 was the first in class), but the theory is it allows you to control the movement of the bike as it loads up on the brakes and in corners separate to when it hits bumps. It’s useful, even if you’re not a suspension twiddler. It is also fitted with Pirelli’s new Diablo Supercorsa SPs. There isn’t a sports 600 that rolls out of the showroom on sportier rubber. New monobloc Nissins have 15 per cent more power and 5 per cent more bite than last year and a lighter rear wheel and sprocket assembly save 1kg from unsprung weight. There’s been some cosmetic restyling to the top cowl too. It’s now longer and pointier and has horizontal strakes running across the nose fairing. They’re not for aerodynamic effect though – they simply freshen up a notyet-tired design.

No change for the Daytona 675’s clocks

Kayaba shock has high and low-speed compression adjustment

Taking the 675 round tight and technical Cartagena

Triumph claim more power and bite from monobloc calipers

has it made a difference?

Oh yes. Cartagena circuit is a twisting ribbon of grey tarmac cut into the ruddy, rubblestrewn scrub of south east Spain. Tight and technical, it challenges the braking, steering and power delivery of a bike. WSB teams test here; Triumph use it to develop their chassis. The Daytona is simply brilliant around here. It demands very little of you, but rewards you with confidence, grip and feel. Nimble and accurate, you guide the 675 around Cartagena’s turns with your fingertips, small movements all you need to lever the bike onto its side. It loves to turn, changing direction through the 70mph, third-gear chicane instantly. And through the kind of long, sweeping constant-radius corners that atomise kneesliders, it holds a line as well as any bike I’ve ridden. Need to tighten it up a bit? Just push on the inside bar – there’s plenty of grip and ground clearance. Ó Ó Ó

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p14-19 PB feb new bikesCDP.sp co15 15

19/12/08 14:42:05


top ten

Pictures MArK MAnninG, KAr Lee, rory GAMe, SiMon HiPPerSon

250s A selection of the mightiest quarter-litre bikes of all time, chosen by those who’ve owned, ridden, thrashed and crashed – and still do now: Gavin Greenall, Kar Lee, Ben Miller, Jim Moore, Marc Potter, Tim Thompson, Matt Wildee and Ben Wilkins

ApriliA

rS250

Five years ago I had the chance to buy an unregistered, slightly used Aprilia RS250 from the Knockhill race school for £1500. It had mint, stored bodywork and would have sported a new 03 plate. But I was broke. That I didn’t buy it still makes me weep. Handling, brakes, looks – it is the only 250 that is truly of this decade. Go further with a 300cc big-bore kit for a bit more power, loads more torque and lovely forged Wiseco race pistons. Conversion costs £880 but can give 70+ bhp. MW

022 074 000

Know more www.stanstephens.com

p74-77 PB Feb Top 10 250 CDP.sp 74 74

19/12/08 14:52:07


honda

honda SupeR dReam

In 2003, as has been the case ever since, if you wanted to win 250 Grands Prix you needed an Aprilia. Seven riders in that year’s championship top 10 rode Noale’s disc-valved rocketship. But on Honda’s less powerful but more flexible RS250W, Italian Robby Rolfo stole second overall with two wins. I rode his bike for three laps at Catalunya. I remember its weightlessness, its incredible quickshifter-assisted soundtrack and its euphoric accuracy, even at my speeds. At 1bhp-per-kg and around 98 of each, the RSW was, in a word, pure. Bm

The 250N was a dog-slow rust magnet with a corroding chrome front mudguard and a revolting exhaust collector box. It had as much menace as the BMF, and was heavy – unsurprising as it shared the same chassis as the almost-identical 400N bigger brother – and just generally awful. The Yamaha 250LC which followed two years later weighed 10kg less and made 10bhp more. But hold on. The ‘Dream’ is from an era of Z1300s and CBX1000s and was a fantastic sales success when launched in 1979. Learners loved its CB900F looks. With three valves per cylinder the parallel twin eked out 27bhp, making 90 valve-bouncing, camchain flailing mph almost possible. KL

RS250w

Know more As ever Motocourse should be your first port of call for more about either the RSW or the 2003 250 championship – PB staff lose days at a time immersed in these wonderful repositories of racing data. If you’re building a replica, go to www.nsr-world.com for parts, advice and inspiration.

cB250n

Know more Check out Tom McQuiggan’s CB250N rebuild at: www.cb250n.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html

Suzuki RG250

Yamaha ReveRSe cYlindeR

While Yamaha’s water-cooled 250LC led the charge for a new generation of learner-legal 250s that could crack the ton, the bike that really moved the game on belonged to Suzuki. In 1983, they gave us what was effectively a water-cooled 250 X7 motor in the best handling and well-equipped chassis yet seen. Wrapped in a styling package that knocked the opposition for six (faired-in indicators front and rear? Witchcraft!) the RG also boasted the first alloy box-section frame to grace a production bike, triple-disc brake set-up and true rising-rate rear suspension. KL

For me, there are only two bikes from the 1980s that still look contemporary. The RC30 (just) and Yamaha’s reverse-cylinder TZR250 3MA. I remember the first time I saw one: breakfast, February 1, 1989, page 3 of MCN. I was stunned, and still am, that something so beautiful was given lights and a speedo. In TT-F3 spec (70bhp) it was 9/10ths of a TZ250U. Yamaha UK said we’d get them. We did, but only as greys. 1989 bikes were fickle, 1990 bikes – especially SPs – are glorious. Jm

Gamma

Know more www.stanstephens.com; www.suzukicycles.org/ RG-series/RG250-Gamma.shtml; www.rgv250.co.uk

TzR250 3ma

Know more Import experts Fastline Motorcycles Preston (01772 902600); www.diffrentstrokers.com; http://auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/ (then babelfish to translate the results) Ó Ó Ó

075 000

p74-77 PB Feb Top 10 250 CDP.sp 75 75

19/12/08 14:53:14


iant

killer

woRdS Ben miller

In 1991 You needed An RC30 To BeAT An RGV250. eVen The pICk oF The BIG SpoRTSBIkeS oF The dAY, YAmAhA’S FZR1000, WASn’T up To The ChAllenGe poSed BY SuZukI’S BAnTAmWeIGhT. heRe’S WhY On the brakes The braking performance of a bike in the dry isn’t often limited by grip. The limiting factor is usually the force that can be applied before the rear wheel climbs too high in the air. And since the braking set-ups on both bikes are comparable – twin four-piston calipers up front, with 300mm discs on the Suzuki and 320mm discs on the Yamaha – it’s the RGV’s lack of weight that lets it steal a lead here. At a fundamental level brakes work by converting kinetic energy into thermal energy, or heat. At 100mph (and admittedly rider-less but let’s try to keep this simple) the 209kg FZR has some 10,247.97 kilojoules of kinetic energy to lose in order to stop. The RGV, with comparable front brakes, has just 6815.96 kilojoules to lose. So while it may not be able to brake later (because if anything its dimensions make it more likely to send the rear wheel skyward), the RGV is asking much less of its brakes. COrner speed The limits to a bike’s corner speed in a given turn are the ability of its tyres to grip and the physical restriction the machine’s size and shape impose on the maximum lean angle it can achieve. Since both the RGV and the FZR are performance bikes fitted with sports rubber, we can assume high and comparable levels of grip for our theoretical dogfight. The Suzuki nudges ahead mid-corner by virtue of its greater ground clearance. Its diminutive dimensions and compact, 250cc twostroke V-twin mean the bike is narrower than the FZR, allowing it to lean further. Also it’s narrower rubber (110/70 17in and 150/60 17in, against the Yamaha’s 130/60 17in and front and 170/60 17in rear) mean that for a given corner speed the FZR1000 will need to lean over further, further limiting the apex speeds it can maintain. But perhaps more important than mid-corner velocity is the speed with which the two bikes can change direction, and here the little RGV is way ahead. Changing direction is lateral acceleration and, as Shane Byrne will tell you after being slapped with a 10kg penalty last season, any additional mass reduces the rate at which a bike can change direction. The RGV’s narrower tyres also offer a second advantage. While broader rubber brings with it

the advantage of a larger contact patch and more grip, the fact that the FZR pilot must heave his bike around a larger radius to achieve a given lean angle – to tackle a given corner at a given speed – means his bike will be slower to turn. This limit on his roll rate effectively means there are lines the RGV is able to take that the FZR simply cannot. Grip While it’s convenient to assume both bikes have the same amount of grip, there is an argument that even on identical tyres the RGV would generate more friction. This is because being lighter, the loads passing through its suspension as it negotiates any surface imperfections will fluctuate less than those experienced by the heavyweight FZR1000. And since marked fluctuations in load affect grip, it could be argued that the lighter bike enjoys more outright grip. ahem, tOp speed and aCCeleratiOn The FZR’s mighty engine – for years the last word in superbike power – gives the FZR a huge advantage in power and acceleration. The 1000’s better power-to-weight ratio will help it back into the lead whenever the corners run out, but, hey, are you a drag racer or a bike racer? In the areas that really let the rider make the difference – into corners and through them – the lightweight, focused RGV is on your side. If you’re still losing, call tuner Stan Stephens (see p82).

If Suzuki had kept developing the RGV, maybe we’d have ended up with this 800cc version. Imagine

000 088

p84-85 PB feb Giant killer CDP.s1 1

18/12/08 18:24:46


Suzuki RGV250

Cost then £4090 Power 55bhp@10,750rpm Torque 29lb.ft@10,500rpm Dry weight 139kg Power-to-weight 0.40bhp per kg Standing 1/4 13.3s @ 106.4mph

Yamaha FzR1000 Cost then Power Torque Dry weight Power-to-weight Standing 1/4

£6794 115bhp@9500rpm 67lb.ft@8100rpm 209kg 0.55bhp per kg 10.9s@130.3mph

000 085

p84-85 PB feb Giant killer CDP.s2 2

18/12/08 18:25:12


fourth-gear challenge

these are pb’s favourite bikes of the year... words matt wildee, scott redmond Pics rory game

Ducati 848 122bhp@10,400rpm 64.9lb.ft@8300rpm

yamaha r6 113.1bhp@14,400rpm 43lb.ft@10,400rpm

honDa fireblaDe 165.9bhp@12,100rpm 75.9lb.ft@8600rpm

086

p86-91 PB feb 4 gears CDP.sp.ind2 2

19/12/08 16:15:00


p86-91 PB feb 4 gears CDP.sp.ind3 3

19/12/08 16:15:23


An AIM Gold dash displays vital statistics. ‘A great little dash,’ says builder Felix.

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p94-97 PB feb ObsessionCDP.sp co94 94

17/12/08 20:51:28


build it

XL

obsession Who’d have thought a Kawasaki ER-6 motor could be at the heart of a bike that sums up the very essence of trackday weaponry? Not us

words Gary Inman Pics Fly TIppInG

Exhaust was ‘computer modelled’ and features tapered headers. These pipes were made ‘quick and dirty’. Felix dreams of a titanium or Inconel system.

095

p94-97 PB feb ObsessionCDP.sp co95 95

17/12/08 20:51:39


How to

wHeelie fo That, you would have to say, is just showing off. Pfeiffer stunting on a BMW single

Steve BurnS former wheelie speed record holder confirms power is the key

How do you do it? Usually I get the bike up in second or third gear. I blip the throttle to keep it balanced and nick it through the gears. That is much safer than to launch it in first gear because the front wheel acts like a gyro. The faster it spins, the more stable the wheelie. I always cover the rear brake. We all know what can happen, right?

CHriS Pfeiffer

stunt rider wheelies through the gears to make a living How do you do it? The trick is to keep the front wheel a bit below the balance point. That allows the bike to accelerate and you can shift through the gears while the bike speeds up. I change gears as fast as possible to keep the wheel at a steady height. Technique depends on the bike. On a big twin I hook the next gear at high rpm to avoid the torque rush at the bottom of the next gear. On a four, make sure there’s enough power in each gear to maintain the wheelie.

down again. First I learned to pull a wheelie in first gear till the limiter cut in. Then I started to go through the gears. Third I learned to ride a wheelie at the balance point at steady speed. Finally I changed down the gears down while doing wheelies. That’s difficult.

How did you learn it? On a trials bike when I was 12 years old. I was able to wheelie from first to sixth gear and

HaS it ever gone wrong? I’ve never had a problem with a wheelie through the gears so far.

ever done it to SHow off? It’s my job. In my free time I avoid it. But it happens from time to time when I’m on my BMW HP2 Megamoto and the lights go green.

How did you learn it? Mopeds were big back in 1975 when I was 16. We rode around in gangs, I was on my Garelli Tiger Cross. We were messing around. I stood on the rear footrests and pulled the front wheel up at low speed. Every time I got it up a bit further. That’s how I finally got the confidence to wheelie around the balancing point. It’s about feeling. You have to feel it through your arse. wHat do you do to make it eaSier? More power. That’s how I got the wheelie record back in 1989 – because I had 200bhp. I could bring the front wheel up at a faster speed so the wheelie was more stable. A quickshifter helps to go through gears without losing momentum. That makes it easier to keep the front wheel in the air. And a thumb brake gives more accurate control over the rear brake. HaS it ever gone wrong? Yeah, every single accident that I had was associated with a wheelie. I crashed once on my turbocharged Spondon GSX when I went to wheelie out of a burnout. I spun the wheel in second gear, rolled off the throttle, came back on the gas to wheelie, the tyre spun again, then suddenly gripped and the bike flipped.

114

p114-115 PB feb How to CDP.spREV1 1

19/12/08 14:59:08


forever

My Set-up

#6

roger Bilbie’s gSX-r1000 k4

Shane Byrne

Ben wilkinS

BSB Champion thinkS he SpendS too muCh time on the BaCk wheel

praCtiCe makeS perfeCt and the well-drilled wilkinS put the hourS in

how do you do it? Get the most powerful bike you can find, that makes the job a bit easier. The key is not to be erratic with the throttle. It needs to be a big handful of throttle to launch the bike up and then a very delicate throttle to maintain the wheelie. Change through the gears with just tiny rolls of the throttle. Somewhere down the road you come to the point at about 130mph where the power of the bike and the force of the wind against it carries you along as if your front wheel is floating on a little cloud. what do you do to Make it eaSier? Change gears without the clutch. Everything has to happen quite fast to keep the bike on the back wheel. So first spend some time on clutchless shifts. Try to make this as smooth as possible – as if you had a quick shifter. After that you can try to wheelie through gears. The bike will stay much more settled because you close the throttle for a much shorter period. ever done it to Show off? After winning the BSB Championship this year I spent a lot time on the back wheel. I love to wheelie. I spend probably a little bit too much time messing around and showing off doing wheelies – but that’s what it’s all about. haS it ever gone wrong? Hell yeah, definitely yes. I remember practising changing up through the gears on a 250cc motocross bike on a test track. A lot of people were around. I got it just a little bit wrong, but it was a big wheelie in fourth or fifth gear and I flipped and landed hard.

p114-115 PB feb How to CDP.spREV2 2

how do you do it? You need to get used to the feeling of the balance point – not the balance point that’s almost vertical, but the balance point between the power you’re using and the height of the wheel. The higher the wheel the less power you need to use to keep it up. Get confidence with the front up before changing through the gears. Use the throttle to lift the front a bit higher and then change – this’ll take account of the wheel falling while the power is off. how did you learn it? I practised for weeks on a Fantic trials bike. It was done at very low speed so it was all about balance and throttle control, not power. Wheelies on a trials bike are much higher than on a road bike, because there’s no power to keep the front up. I was 15 and practised every day after school. Once you’ve learned to wheelie like this you can wheelie anything. ever done it to Show off? Absolutely. You start off doing it for yourself but most people appreciate a good wheelie. I once did an impromptu stunt show in Nigeria. One of the local guys kindly lent me his GSX-R1000 so I gave them some wheelies and rolling stoppies on the sand-strewn roads. The locals had never seen anything like it; it drew quite a crowd. haS it ever gone wrong? Plenty of times while learning on my trials bike; I went over the back more times than I care to mention. On tarmac I’ve had some close moments where I’ve had to hit the back brake to stop it flipping but, thankfully, nothing more.

Suzuki’s flagship GSX-R offered riders a stupendous engine in a sweet handling package. Here’s what Roger Bilbie did to his K4. ‘I’ve been riding for 26 years now and would class myself as an experienced rider. I ride all year round, commuting to work and blasting around most of the UK’s tracks at every opportunity. I’ve also done quite a few longdistance trips – I’m a regular in North Wales in summer, visited Scotland twice and have frequented the nürburgring for the last six years. I’ve probably sampled most of the recommended biking roads in England. The GSX-R has done 25,000 miles now. ‘I’ve had a few GSX-R 750s before, but I’ve wanted a 1000 since being passed by a slabby in 1986 while I was on my GPZ750A3. ‘The first thing I did to the GSX-R was to adjust all the levers to suit my hands. Why bike shops sell bikes to the public with the controls pointing skywards is beyond me. After setting the static sag I turned to the internet and went to www. sportrider.com where there’s a huge list of suspension settings to try. Since then I’ve tweaked their recommended settings slightly to suit me more by reducing the preload and increasing the rebound a few clicks. ‘I’ve tried a few different tyres out on the bike, from Continental race attacks (which didn’t suit and slid a lot), to Michelin 2CTs and Metzeler racetecs. I’m currently using a Bridgestone combo of BT-002 front for grip and a five-compound BT-016 rear for longevity. Performance-wise there’s an akrapovic carbon slip-on can, a k&n filter and a 16-tooth front sprocket – the best value-for-money modification ever. I’ve also shortened the chain so the wheelbase is shorter. Yes, I like wheelies. A double-bubble screen helps on the longer trips and oxford humpback panniers are slung over the tail unit for travelling abroad. ‘It does everything well, is easy around town, and comfortable enough for long-distance rides, even though it still retains some of the traditional Suzuki GSX-R knees-under-yourchin riding position.’

Limited edition GSX-R1000 set up to perfection

19/12/08 14:59:29


p54-55 PB Feb Subs ad CDP.sp.REV1 1

19/12/08 15:55:25


p54-55 PB Feb Subs ad CDP.sp.REV2 2

19/12/08 15:55:49


Performance Bikes February 2009 sampler