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Forged Aluminium pairs from only ÂŁ1650, Carbon Fibre pairs from ÂŁ2040 ‘The Modern Retro Look’ Tubeless, Wire Spoke, Aluminium Wheels




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0% Interest on Finance available on all wheels*

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*Buy Now, Pay Later finance offer arranged by HPS and available to UK consumers, subject to status and deposit. Representative example: ÂŁ1980 cash price, deposit ÂŁ198, balance ÂŁ1782. One repayment of ÂŁ1782, 10 months deferred, 0% APR. Settlement fee ÂŁ29, total payable ÂŁ2009. If you make your repayments within the agreed loan term, the only additional cost will be the ÂŁ29 settlement fee as shown, if you do not, your interest rate moves from 0% to 29.9% APR.


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The best used buys from £2000 upwards

70 Build the best-ever S1000RR

54 PB meets a GP legend


PB pays tribute to Irish road racing’s unsung hero, Dr John Hinds


Yamaha’s official new R1 accessories, plus Alpinestars gloves and other bits and bobs


From a reborn Yoshi rep to a the most comprehensively modded CBR600RR


Things you like about PB. Note: Please stop sending pictures of men in underpants


Does the long-legged German cut it in the brave new world of adventure-sports bikes?


The venerable K5 motor still has a place in 2015. Just don’t call it a sports-tourer COVER STORY |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

30 JOHN McGUINNESS COLUMN Riding Honda’s GP replica. PB tip: do not read this if you’re having your breakfast

COVER STORY |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||


The greatest used bike bargains, from as little as £2000. We’ll take two Street Triples

COVER STORY ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||


PB travels to Jerez to play pit monkey for Kevin Schwantz. No bolts were rounded off


Kawasaki Z1000 vs Suzuki GSX-S1000

70 CHINESE REVOLUTION CPMoto Lightweight TT racer thrashed around Cadwell


Michael Rutter’s verdict on premier exotics

“Shut up about Bonnie Tyler, OK?”




CPMoto TT racer tested

96 360° GARAGE

We go deep inside the Thai headquarters of small bike specialists Tyga Performance


1988 FZR400 rides length of the UK, Johnny’s RGV250 ready for revival, 2000 R1 carb fiddling yields more power


Metzeler Racetec RR K3 rubber, Alpinestars GP Plus gloves, Triplewax waterless cleaner, S-Doc dry lube, handy seal picks


KTM 1290 Super Duke R chassis sorted, Panigale S and Daytona 675 rule at Silverstone, GSX-R750 visits the Isle of Man, S1000RR gets a luggage rack. Yes, really


998 motor, arse-clenching ride. Why the Ducati Monster S4RS is such a smashing bike almost 10 years after its launch

104 Caz’s FZR400 makes it to Land’s End

63 Brash, simple. Suzuki’s GSX-S1000

BIKES THIS MONTH 10 2015 BMW S1000XR 14 2015 SUZUKI GSX-S1000F 26 2015 SUZUKI GSX-R750 K5 26 2006 KAWASAKI ZX-10R 27 HONDA CBR600RR 27 2006 KAWASAKI ZX-6R 636 27 2006 SUZUKI GSX-R750 K6 27 2009 SUZUKI GSX-R1000 K9 30 HONDA RC213V-S 36 1999 TRIUMPH DAYTONA 955i 38 2000 HONDA FIREBLADE 39 1999 YAMAHA YZF-R6 39 2002 KAWASAKI ZX-6R A1P 40 2004 APRILIA RSV1000R 42 2009 TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE 43 2007 HONDA CBR600RR 43 SUZUKI GSX-R1000 K3/K4 44 2008 KAWASAKI ZX-10R 46 2009 DUCATI MONSTER 1100S 46 2008 KTM RC8 47 2011 SUZUKI GSX-R600 48 2009 DUCATI 1198S 50 2009 YAMAHA YZF-R1 51 2010 MV AGUSTA F4 51 2010 BMW S1000RR 60 1994 SUZUKI RGV500 XR84 63 2015 KAWASAKI Z1000 82 2015 DUCATI 1199 PANIGALE R 82 2015 YAMAHA YZF-R1 104 1988 YAMAHA FZR400 107 1992 SUZUKI RGV250-N 110 2015 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R 112 2015 TRIUMPH DAYTONA 675 114 2015 DUCATI PANIGALE S 122 2006 DUCATI MONSTER S4RS



Ducati 1199 Panigale R takes on Yamaha’s all-new R1M at Mallory Park



PERSONAL CONTRACT PURCHASE At £139 per month plus deposit and final repayment. NOW is the time to try the Ninja ZX-10R

Professional riders on closed road

Ninja ZX-10R - Superbike Supremacy Representative Example: £139.00 36 repayments of £5,810.00 Final repa ment of 37 months A reement duration £12,335.00 Cash price £2,669.70 Deposit

Total amount of credit Purchase fee† Total amount pa able Interest rate (fixed) Representative APR

£9 665.30 £10.00 £13 483.70 4.76% 4.9% APR

†Included in final repayment This finance example is based on an annual mileage of 4,000

For full details and other qualifying models, visit:









Finance is subject to status and is only available to UK applicants aged 18 and over. This PCP finance offer is at a lower APR than we offered last year on PCP. This finance offer is only available through Kawasaki Finance, which is a trading style of Black Horse Ltd, St William House, Tresillian Terrace, Cardiff CF10 5BH. Subject to availability. Finance is only available to applicants aged 18 and over. Offer ends 30 September 2015. All brand new road machines are supplied with a two year warranty, Master Scheme Security, one year’s Kawasaki RAC Assist, one year’s Kawasaki Riders Club Membership and access to unique Kawasaki content via email and other communication channels. Kawasaki Motors UK, a branch of Kawasaki Motors Europe N.V., 1 Dukes Meadow, Millboard Road, Bourne End, Bucks, SL8 5XF.


Today we want an RSV. Tomorrow, who knows?

Which used bike to buy for £8k or less? MATT WILDEE EDITOR I own it, I think. My 134bhp carbed R1 is the ultimate analogue sportsbike

SIMON RUSSELL ART EDITOR This changes daily. So far this week; M900, XB9R, SRAD 600, XR1200...

CHRIS NEWBIGGING FEATURES EDITOR A Monster 1100S, with the optional Pantah-inspired paintwork. I’d love it

JOHN McAVOY ROAD TESTER A white Aprilia RSV4 with a big fuck-off loud exhaust. Sorry to be predictable


WELCOME TO THE September issue of Performance Bikes magazine. This month we’ve wasted an awful lot of time on the internet working out which bikes we’re going to buy next. It’s all features editor Chris’s fault. His massive 16-page guide to bargain used sportsbikes has made us all think about our next bikes to such an extent that eBay is a constant office distraction. Today I decided I’m selling my R1 to buy a GSX-R750 Anniversary model, yesterday I was trading it in for a Ducati 999, tomorrow it’ll be something else... After years of inflated used prices, the increase in new bike sales means there are some real secondhand bargains about. The guide to our favourites starts on page 34. There’s plenty of other great stuff in this issue but my other personal favourite is contributor Jon Urry’s attempt to spanner for 1994 500GP world champion Kevin Schwantz as he raced his RGV500 at a meeting at Jerez. Jon’s mixture of wonder, amazement and sheer terror makes for great reading. See page 54.

Matt Wildee



PERFORMANCEBIKES.CO.UK | SEPTEMBER 2015 I’m happy with my old 1996 Honda Fireblade. Perfect for a run to the shops

MARK WHITE TECHNICIAN The cheapest crossplane R1 I could find and spend the change making it lighter

RUPERT PAUL CONTRIBUTOR A KTM SMT, plus a holiday in Mauritius and a new multimeter for the wife


SIMON HARGREAVES CONTRIBUTOR Five year-old BMW S1000RR, and spend summer doing trackdays

KAR LEE CONTRIBUTOR For laughs and speed on track, a cosmetically-damaged Aprilia Tuono

JOHN McGUINNESS COLUMNIST A secondhand Honda RCV and not let Becky know the real cost. Simple...

TREVOR FRANKLIN COLUMNIST KTM RC8R or Ducati 999S. With the 999 I’d get change to buy spares...

Get your magazine delivered to your door or directly to your tablet device. Or both. You know it makes sense.

Call 0844 848 8872

CAROLINE BARRETT EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Think they’ll sell me the PB 675 Daytona at the end of the year?

THANKS TO ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Wheels Motorcycles, Jeff Turner, Harley Stephens, Jamie Morris, Simon Lee, Bry, Urry, Al Jones, B&H


Dunlop tyres are dedicated to real riders. Those who never give up and most of all, who enjoy the sheer passion and excitement of riding their bikes. The Dunlop SportSmart 2 is made for them. The performance and confidence they’d expect on a racetrack, perfectly adapted for the road.


Pannier racks and powerslides

BMW’s new S1000XR is no adventure bike. It’s a sophisticated superbike with comfort and practicality 2015 BMW S1000XR CHRIS NEWBIGGING NOBODY SAID GETTING old meant growing up. So, if your body resists the contortions required to get in the saddle of a race-rep, but your mind still demands to be speed-addled, you might find the S1000XR satisfies both soul and flesh. BMW are undisputed leaders in adventure bikes, and you could reasonably expect the S1000XR to replicate the qualities of the R1200GS, just with four cylinders. And it is, to the extent that it offers comfort for rider and pillion and ease of use, just like the Boxer twins. Otherwise, as the XR model name suffix suggests, it’s not playing the same game at all. The ball isn’t even the same shape. The heart of the S1000XR is also 10

the heart of the S1000R super-naked. The power curve is softened a touch in the first three gears in deference to the raised centre of gravity, but the 160bhp motor is otherwise unfettered. If you were silly enough to buy a £12,400 XR without any options, you’d get basic suspension, the indignity of changing gear with a clutch and you’d only have two engine mapping options (road/rain). It’s like being a caveman. In reality, BMWs are almost all wheeled out of showrooms touting accessories and upgrade packages. Our test bike is an S1000XR Sport SE, the £14,750 range-topper. Spending a few quid extra on monthly repayments gets you semi-active suspension, plus Dynamic riding modes and therefore more nuances in traction control. An electronic shifter gives fast


Switched to the right setting, the S1000XR is a true back-road weapon

upshifts, and incorporates an auto-blipper, making downshifts clutch-free. There are heated grips, cruise control and pannier mounts (but not the boxes) included, too. It’s an intriguing pot of ingredients, but the outcome is pretty tasty. Going for a bat-shit sportsbike thrash is well within its remit. Cycle through to Dynamic mode on the suspension, select Dynamic Pro engine management/traction control, and aside from being slightly vague in slower, sharper turns, the leggy BMW is an absolute back-road weapon. Long-travel suspension, a highcentre of gravity and touring tyres will always compromise feel to a degree, but 90% of the time it doesn’t have a real bearing on road riding. The Dynamic ESA setting keeps things nicely in control, and there’s not excessive pitching when you give


Satnav is official option. Dash gives clear info on modes, settings and engine management Semi-active electronic damping system is controlled by a rocker switch on the left-hand bar Considering the adventure styling, the XR’s crackling, snarling exhaust is ruder than you’d expect

the Brembo monoblocks a good squeeze. The auto-blipper keeps the rear wheel under control, cleanly swapping gears with an aggressive flare of revs and crackling from the surprisingly unmuted exhaust. The big bars make easy work of flinging it at an apex, where you can quickly pick up the throttle and rocket out the other side. Dynamic mode gives just enough traction control interference to keep things in line – Dynamic Pro allows the rear Bridgestone T30 to step out and smear a few pence worth of rubber up the road out of every corner. Pro also removes the wheelie

control. The power curve is tailored from first to third so the XR doesn’t just unload and wheelie without provocation, but it only takes a small shuffle back in the seat and a little tension – not even a tug – on the handlebars for the front to float up in the air in the same dichotomous, relaxed/frenetic way it goes about everything else. It’s adaptable, too. A back road to a mate’s house changes from fast and smooth to washboard ripples halfway along, and when it does, all I need to do is click the suspension rocker switch on the left switchgear to engage ‘Road’ damping, and the XR

‘The outcome is pretty tasty: a bat-shit sportsbike thrash is well within its remit’ SEPTEMBER 2015 | PERFORMANCEBIKES.CO.UK


‘The quickshifter and auto-blipper are further plus points for pillions’


2015 BMW S1000XR Power Torque Weight Price

continues to hammer along at indecent speed, with more supple damping to isolate South Linc’s less well tended tarmac from me. The only major black mark against this tall-rounder is the buzzy, revvy feel of the motor when you try to cruise on a motorway. It’s about 1000rpm too high at 85mph, and while you could probably still knock out a few hundred miles a day, it could really do with a high-ratio sixth as an overdrive. Top gear is redundant in every other instance – first to fifth are more than adequate for every other scenario, so a longer ratio wouldn’t compromise it in any other way. If your partner isn’t the nervous type, it’s a great pillion blaster, too. Supportive seat, well-placed grabrails and plenty of leg room got a big thumbs-up from Mrs Newbigging. If you needed any proof that racing improves all road bikes and not just sportsbikes, another plus point for taking your nearest and dearest out is

Dial in ‘Road’ on the ESA and the XR will flatten imperfections with ease

Dynamic Pro mode is a last-ditch safety net. You can still get the rear to step out

the quick-shifter/auto-blipper. It not only assists fast riding, it makes for seamless changes that prevents your pillion swaying back and forth. The off-roady, tourer-ish looks shouldn’t deceive you. I don’t think it’ll prise current adventure bike owners away from their bikes. It’s too frenetic, coarse and revvy next to the likes of the GS, Triumph Tiger and the other refined beasties in the class. Matching Cordura couples heading for Morocco need not apply. What the S1000XR does is do away with racetrack pretensions of sportsbikes, keeps the technology and performance, and dials in the comfort and ease of use the adventure bike layout affords. It’s not a fast adventure bike: it’s a 160bhp sportsbike made comfy and practical. If you like speed but not trackdays (though it’s still good enough to cause a fast group upset), it could be the litre bike you didn’t realise you were waiting for.

160bhp @ 11,000rpm 82.65lb.ft @ 9250rpm 228kg £15,999

THE DETAIL ENGINE |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

Type Liquid-cooled, dohc inline-four Capacity 1301cc, 8 valve Fuelling Electronic fuel injection Bore x stroke 80mm x 49.7mm

CHASSIS ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Frame Twin-spar aluminium beam Front suspension 46mm USD fork, semiactive, electronic preload/damping control Rear suspension Monoshock, semiactive, electronic preload/damping control Front brakes 2 x 320mm discs, fourpiston Brembo radial calipers Rear brakes 265mm disc, floating singlepiston caliper

DIMENSIONS |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Wheelbase 1548mm Rake/trail 25.5°/117mm Wet weight 228kg Seat height 840mm Fuel capacity 20 litres

TECHNOLOGY ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Rider aids Race ABS, traction control, quickshifter, auto-blipper, semiactive electronic suspension

BUYING ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Price £14,250 Contact www.

ABS-equipped four-pot Brembos grip these 320mm discs with serious power



BMW Motorrad UK

BMW Owners Track Day

The Ultimate Riding Machine

MAKE LIFE A RIDE. Join us for an exclusive owners track day event at Donington Park on Saturday 29 August 2015. Enjoy track tuition from Tommy Bridewell and Michael Laverty so you can learn how to get the most out of your BMW motorcycle. You will also have the opportunity to undertake road test rides * on a range of BMW Motorrad models from the IJHIMZBDDMBJNFE4Ń&#x;Ń&#x;93BOE3Ń&#x;Ń&#x;34UPUIFUFDIOPMPHJDBMMZBEWBODFE4Ń&#x;Ń&#x;33 You will be able to relax in the Tyco BMW hospitality unit where you will receive VIP treatment with lunch and refreshments provided. There will also be chance for you to view the latest rider equipment and accessories.

To book your place on this exclusive event call Focused Events on 0845 026 7272, email or visit *Test ride is subject to applicant status and availability

GSX-R grows up On the face of it, Suzuki’s new GSX-S1000F is just a GSX-R1000 with sensible shoes. But it can still kick ass

‘The power curve is linear and unrelenting, getting you along the road sodding quickly’ 14


THIS IS NOT a sports tourer. Even though it looks like and is specced like a sports tourer, Suzuki are adamant it is not. It’s a sportsbike for ex-sportsbike owners in their 40s, who still like a weekend thrash, don’t bother with pillions or touring but want a more road-biased, comfortable attitude. To prove their point, Suzuki launched the bike on the Isle of Man. No chance for any long jaunts – just a day hammering the unrestricted roads that make the Irish Sea’s premier lump of rock a sportsbike lover’s haven. I’d already ridden the naked GSX-S1000 (see page 62) so knew what to expect to a degree. The engine is the same detuned version of the GSX-R1000 K5-K7 engine, the frame is unchanged and the swingarm is the same banana-arm lifted from the current GSX-R1000. The gearing is one tooth smaller and taller on the rear sprocket, and the fully-adjustable forks have a slightly different shim stack and air gap. The shock is identical internally, but is on preload setting three of seven, rather than four for

the naked. Rebound damping is the only other adjustment. Naturally, any visit to the Isle of Man must at least begin with a lap of the TT course. PB was on the Island just two weeks after race week, and smears of Metzeler/ Dunlop rubber still mark the 37-mile course as effectively as the painted kerbstones. It doesn’t take long for the pace to step up. And up. And up. Suzuki might say it’s a retuned engine, but really it’s softened all-round and made a little cheaper, losing titanium valves and so on. But it’s still a rapid bike with speed high on the agenda, and with the best part of 12,000rpm to play with it doesn’t take a lot of effort to be travelling at 120, 130, 140mph... The power curve is linear and unrelenting, getting you along the road sodding quickly – but in a fuss-free, civilised fashion. It feels a touch over-geared for a bike Suzuki desperately want to distance from the ‘sports tourer’ tag – we’d shorten the gearing slightly to liven it up a little. As it is, it won’t perform involuntary power wheelies in the way you expect from a litre bike. Suzuki expect buyers to have a more mature outlook, but we’d still like a bit of superbike rudeness under the sensible exterior. It’s by no means confined to two wheels – the smallest ping of clutch lever or a pull on the Renthal Fatbars over a crest will soon see the front wheel spindle reaching

K5 motor is a peach, but it’s marred by jerky throttle on pick-up out of corners

for balance point, and the hump between Kate’s Cottage and the Creg-ny-baa punched the front up at an indicated 140mph. The riding position makes balance and control easy – it’ll mono as far as your skill or attention span will allow. The repurposed motor’s only issue is fuelling. Going from a closed throttle to even the slightest opening – for example, picking up a neutral throttle after turn-in – is a jerky affair. Riding through town at low revs, or across a rippled surface, is enough to set it spluttering and jerking as it reponds to small throttle movements. Suzuki say they wanted strong response for sporty riding, and were prepared to lose a little low-speed civility. But I don’t buy it – it’s just not developed enough. 196bhp Panigales with massive pistons can now bimble through 30mph limits cleanly. There’s enough sensors to feed sophisticated modern ECUs information needed for civility and response. And the more extreme GSX-R on which it is based never had the same issue. We weren’t overly impressed by the naked version’s handling, but the transition to fully-faired sportster has improved the Suzuki’s fast riding credentials. The firmer forks don’t just compensate for the increase weight and downforce of the fairing, they also make for more direct and communicative steering, especially attspeed.


2015 SUZUKI GSX-S1000F Across the fearsomely fast Mountain section on a quiet weekday, the plastic-wrapped GSX-S never failed to inspire the confidence to tip in to corners at outrageous speed. The handling belies the impression you’d get from a bounce on the suspension – it seems softly damped, but it coped admirably with the mix of roads the IoM offers. It comes in to its own at around 80-90mph on slightly bumpy road surfaces typical of the British Isles, isolating road imperfections whilst keeping everything stable and still allowing you to put the bike where you need to. You’ll still need to buy an adventure bike if washboard-rippled B-road riding is important to you, and it’d need a new shock plus fork fettling if fast-group trackdays are on the agenda, but in fairness Suzuki isn’t aiming it at either of those groups. The Brembo-badged calipers offer strong stopping, and the permanent ABS is unobtrusive – mostly keeping its nose out of proceedings, and cutting in as subtly as possible if you’re really working the front tyre. The lack of ‘off’ button isn’t an issue. The only minor braking gripe is a slight lack of initial bite. The lever needs a harder squeeze before it feels like you’re really knocking off speed. It’s often solved with quality sintered pads on GSX-Rs, and I’m willing to bet the same mod would instil confidence at big speed here, too. Despite the ‘it’s not a sport-tourer’ protestations, it does have many of the qualities that are part and parcel of traditional sporty-ish all-rounders. The riding position affords more leg room, and the bar risers hold the swept-back Renthal Fatbars high and near. It’s a very natural, easy riding position – my only slight criticism is that being sat so upright doesn’t allow you to really get forward and feel a connection with the 16


‘It’s a natural riding position, it justs lacks a feeling of total connection with the front tyre’ There’s a stack of leg room and wide bars offer heaps of leverage

Without looking at the sprockets, the GSX-F with its

front tyre on smoother, sharper turns. But it’s a slight pay-off to accept if you want the gains in usability the GSX-S1000F offers in comparison to the sportsbikes Suzuki thinks buyers are drifting away from. Wind protection is surprisingly good from the narrow-waisted screen – throttle-to-the-stop thrashes didn’t require a full chin-on-tank tuck, and there’s enough deflection to sit at motorway speed without being buffeted all over the shop. It’s a serious bike for the money – at £9999 not much else can compete. The Z1000SX is £300 less, but Suzuki is adamant it’s doing a different, less sensible job to the Kwak. The only problem with that is the styling – it looks good, but it’s closer to the Z-SX than a superbike when prospective buyers see it on the showroom floor. Dynamically, it’s fast, agile, well-braked and exciting, but comfy and not too taxing. It just needs the fuelling sorting to polish it off, and a smaller front sprocket to liven it up.

Power Torque Weight Price

143.5bhp @ 10000rpm 78.2lb.ft @ 9500rpm 214kg £9499 (ABS model)

THE DETAIL ENGINE ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Type Liquid-cooled, dohc inline-four Capacity 999cc, 16 valve Fuelling Fuel injection, 44mm dualbutterfly cable-operated throttle bodies Bore x stroke 73.4mm x 59mm

CHASSIS ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Frame Twin-spar aluminium beam Front suspension KYB 43mm USD fork, preload, compression and rebound damping adjustment Rear suspension KYB monoshock, preload and rebound damping adjustment Front brakes 2 x 310mm discs, radialmount four-piston Brembo calipers Rear brakes 220mm disc, single-piston Nissin caliper

DIMENSIONS |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Wheelbase 1460mm Rake/trail 25°/100mm Wet weight 214kg Seat height 815mm Fuel capacity 17 litres

TECHNOLOGY ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Rider aids ABS, 3-stage traction control

BUYING ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Price £9499 (ABS model as tested) Contact





BSB’s organisers put up a £5k bonus to the top three of race one at Brands Hatch, if they were prepared to start from the back for race two, with £50,000 up for grabs if they were able to win. Nice idea, but Byrne, Brookes and Richard Cooper elected to stick with a front row start, and fans were denied a banzai ride from the back of the pack.



PB’s digitally-retarded staff have grip, and you can now get more o sage wisdom via anti-social medi outlet, Twitter. Follow @PBmagazi for regular-ish random musings, n pictures and links vaguely related fast motorcycles. Feel free to inter with us, unless you’re pissed and on a Saturday night. We probably be too, and it won’t end well...


FORWARD RACING BOSS ARRESTED Forward Racing’s riders and staff may not return to the MotoGP paddock after team owner Giovanni Cuzari was arrested for bribery, fraud and money laundering. Loris Baz and Stefan Bradl r itin t h r h th ner , as

ank s

THERE’S NO LIMIT We now stock more than 25,000 products from over 100 biking brands.


THREE NEW MV AGUSTA 1000s NEXT YEAR MV Agusta will launch a new F4, Brutale and a ‘crossover’ model – likely to be a larger version of the tall-rounder Turismo Veloce 800 triple currently on sale – next year. The news came at a memoral event for Cagiva founder Claudio Castiglioni, the man who was repsonsible for the revival of MV Agusta at the turn of the millennium (as well as turning Ducati around before that). His son Giovanni led on-stage proceedings at the Schiranna factory in Varese, Italy, and announced that decent sales of the company’s 675/800 triples have put them in a position to build three new litre bikes around an all-new engine and frame. For now, that’s where the details stop. But the good new is that we’re expecting to see the new range at the EICMA show in Milan this November, ready to go on sale in 2016. We’ll bring you the full details of the new bikes as soon as we get them.



WSB BOSS LETS NEW ZX-10R SLIP Kawasaki’s WSB team manager Guim Roda has revealed there will be a new ZX-10R next year. “We will have a new ZX-10R in 2016,” he said. “The concept will be the same but, with some details and changes to make it even more competitive. “Given the current racing rules are very restricted, road bikes have to be developed with an eye on the sport. We are heading on a path that Aprilia, Ducati and BMW have already taken for this year by bringing out new bikes.”

Hate pistons? Detest camshafts? Immerse yourself in the world of the Wankel at the Classic TT. The National Motorcycle Museum is creating a ‘pop up museum’ with thirty TT winning Nortons (and parading the wailing wonder) and also campaigning a recommissioned, updated early-90s Rotary with William Dunlop pulling on the twistgrip. William on a Norton, Michael on an XR69 and Anstey on a YZR should make for top racing.

WRONG WAY AT THE NURBURGRING This month’s PB’s ‘Twat of the Month’ award goes to this clown who decided that the fast, blind Foxhole section of the Nurburgring was the best place to perform an impromptu U-turn. To make matters even worse, the unidentified moron was then nearly collected by a Merc 190E Cosworth on a hot lap. Witness the idiocy yourself: go to YouTube and type in ‘Nurburgring U-turn.’

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This billet lever is fully adjustable with a fiveposition, quick-turn knob and is manufactured by Gilles. £149.99


Gilles f footrest


Stunningly-made crash protectors are available for all over the bike. This is the kit for the front wheel. £64.99

gs. £59


on seat in wap

Tasteful, strong-looking and incorporating the OE reflector and indicators. £101.99


We’ve seen these on test R1s. Fabricated from titanium, Yamaha don’t claim a power gain. £599.99


As is the way with every manufacturer these days, Yamaha have launched a huge range of genuine accessories for the latest 2015 YZF-R1. Realising there was good money to be made from people modifying their bikes, Yamaha were actually developing this kit alongside the production bikes. It means, in theory, it should work as well and be as reliable as the OE stuff. It also means that Yamaha could lavish time and money on things which are nice, but don’t sell bikes in the showroom. You’ll find beautifully-made cans, rearsets, levers, crash protection and other bits and pieces that have to be built down to a price for the production bikes. Price: From £64.99







Traditional quickshifters use a pressure switch on the gear linkage rod, which can be costly to produce. The QuickShifter Easy, on the other hand, has a sensor on the gear spline pinch-bolt that senses a tension increase and uses this to trigger a brief cut in the ignition to allow the gears to engage. It will automatically calibrate itself, but an Android device is needed for any advanced set-up. An Apple-compatible App is being developed. Price: £239.99

On a TT comedown? IoM snapper Dave Collister’s new book Shutter Speed 2 is packed full of amazing pictures and interviews with riders. £18.50. www. lilypublications.

WA S H A B L E | B L AC K | W E E - F R I E N D LY

LORENZO LANDS HJC have updated their Jorge Lorenzo lid to his new 2015 design. Other than the graphics it’s the same RPHA10+ lid as last year. It costs £449.99, talent not included.

MOTOGP DOORMAT At under £10 it’s hard to argue against owning an official MotoGP doormat! Marquez uses his all the time to clean his boots after dirtying them in gravel traps. It costs £9.99. www. sportsbikeshop. 24

EXTREME RACING SUMMER ONE-PIECE UNDERSUIT ALPINESTARS SP-1 GLOVE The new SP-1 is made from 1.3mm leather with a multi-panel construction. The palm and outer edge of the hand is reinforced with suede while a carbon knuckle guard and TPU palm slider boost protection. Venting is taken care of by an exhaust on the back of the hand as well as perforations on he cuff and finger sidewalls. They also have a touchscreencompatible index fingertip so you can text your mates to tell hem you’ve got new gloves. Available in S-3XL in red/white, black and black/white. Price: £114.99

Constructed from specially blended polyamide and claimed to offer enhanced moisture management without riding up. The fabric is fully washable and has a two-way zip so you can go for a wee without having to completely unzip it. The sizing is a little complicated and it is best to get an undersuit to fit snugly, so go on their website and check out the guide before ordering. The suit comes in S-XXL in both men and women’s sizes. Price: £29.99

O I LY | S H I N Y | H E AV Y


Valvoline have teamed up with Padget Motorcycles to offer a bespoke lubrica pack. Costing £65, the pack consists a selection of lubricants and motorcyc cleaning products all packaged up in neat Valvoline Racing rucksack. As it weighs a ton you are probably best going to the Batley shop to buy it rath than getting it posted. Price: £65


L I G H T | S M A L L | S PAC E - S AV I N G


Shorai’s range of Lithium Iron-Phosphate batteries are at least 50% lighter than a traditional lead/acid battery, and also far smaller. The space it frees up in the battery compartment is perfect for locating things like a Power Commander. The downside is the battery needs a unique charger (£76.69) and a battery checker (£28.81) is also recommended. But Shorai’s batteries do come with a two-year warranty, if you’re still suspicious about Li-Iron. Price: From £90.24

UP TO £ 500 OFF




29 31 AUGUST 2015

9LNPZ[LYMVYV\Y)HUR/VSPKH`:\TTLY:HSLHUKÄUK your local dealer at *Terms and Conditions apply: 1. The promotion is open to UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man residents aged 18 years or over except employees of the Promoter, their Dealers and agents and members of their immediate families or anyone connected to the creation and administration of the promotion. 2. £500 discount available on new Honda Motorcycles of 300cc and above purchased or ordered at participating Authorised Honda Dealers between 29th– 31st August 2015 (both dates inclusive). 3. To obtain your £500 discount, you must first obtain a unique voucher code by registering your details at between 29th August and 31st August 2015. Once registered you will receive the voucher code by email. The unique voucher code must be presented to the Dealer at the time of purchase or order of the motorcycle. The discount will be applied at the time of purchase or order and voucher codes will not be accepted after this time. Opening times of Dealers vary – please check with the Dealer. 4. One voucher code only per purchase. No cash alternative available. No purchase necessary. 5. No responsibility will be accepted for voucher codes lost or damaged. 6. All Honda motorcycles subject to availability. 7. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any loss, damage, injury or disappointment suffered by participating in this promotion, or any damage to any participant’s or other person’s computer or mobile phone equipment as a consequence of participating in or downloading any material relating to this promotion. Nothing shall exclude the Promoter’s liability for death or personal injury resulting from its negligence. 8. The Promoter reserves the right to modify, cancel, terminate or suspend this promotion in whole or in part, at its sole discretion, if it believes the promotion is not capable of being conducted within these terms and conditions or in the event of a virus, computer bug or unauthorised human intervention or any other cause that is beyond the reasonable control of the Promoter that could corrupt or affect the administration, security, impartiality or normal course of the promotion. 9. If in the Promoter’s sole determination any participant acts contrary to these terms and conditions or their actions are or are considered to be fraudulent (including but not limited to tampering with the operation of the promotion or bringing the Promoter and/or any of its Dealers agents or representatives into disrepute), they may be rejected from the promotion. 10. The decision of the Promoter is final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into. 11. These terms and conditions are governed by English law and are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts. 12. Promoter: Honda Motor Europe Limited t/a Honda (UK), Cain Road, Bracknell RG12 1HL.




Send in some pics of your modded bike to and you could win some great prizes. This month, Stuart wins Oxford’s front and rear stands worth £120. Made out of heavy duty 40mm tube, they offer a secure base to work on your bike.

BIKE OF THE MONTH |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

‘I couldn’t afford it, but I did it anyway’ SUZUKI GSX-R1000 K5 STUART BROADFIELD

I HAD THE ‘unpolished diamond’ GSX-R750 that featured in your September 2013 issue and then promptly blew up a month later. So when this K5 came up for K3 money I grabbed it. It was a bit sorry for itself, with a beaten-up Chinese Relentless fairing kit, and it needed some work. I fitted R1 calipers, an Öhlins steering damper and K7 750 forks with Öhlins pistons from my 750 to it. A Brembo master cylinder was added up front and I replaced the warped

stock discs with some Brembos. All was good until last October when I hit a diesel spill and wrapped it around a central reservation. The bike came out with mainly cosmetic damage and sat in the garage for a few months while I nursed a broken ankle. First on the rebuild list was a new fairing. I almost went with some black and white ones to match my tank, then decided to go all out on the Yoshimura replica I really wanted. I had a Bazzaz on back order from HPS and then got myself some OZ Racing forged aluminum wheels off eBay for my birthday. Turns out they

Stuart has made the transition from blown-up K3 to Yoshi K5 with a little help from eBay and a Bazzaz

were for a K1 so I sourced some Black Shadow discs and they went straight in with 5mm larger caliper spacers. A Yoshi exhaust was on the shopping list, as the Akra didn’t suit the Yoshi paint scheme. Luckily, a full titanium system with offset sump came up on eBay. It was reasonably priced for what it was, but not cheap. I had a Z-AFM self-mapping system for the Bazzaz and continued to sort the fueling with that. Next week it’s going for a dyno run to see how it’s doing. I am hoping with that exhaust and the fuelling sorted it should be pushing 180bhp.

‘It’s done 50,000 miles in three years’


2006 ZX-10R is the epitome of stealth



MY 2006 ZX-10R isn’t the prettiest, but with 58,000 miles on it, it has a comprehensive life story. I bought it three years ago with 7000 miles on the clock and have added more than 50,000 since. It’s been tastefully modified, with twin

carbon-fibre Akropovics, solo seat cowl, ASV brake and clutch levers, GI Pro gear indicator, Power Commander, Speedo Healer, front calipers from a ZZR14 and I’ve painted all the screen and fairing bolts black to maximise the stealth look.

‘There’s not another ZX-6R like it’


2006 KAWASAKI ZX-6R 636 PAUL BOOL When a stock CBR600RR isn’t good enough

‘I know it will never be finished’

1406726.8 G: GB DIN EN P T PA


THIS IS MY first ever bike. I got it just over a year ago and even before I bought it I knew I wanted to modify it. First I fitted a Sigma slipper clutch as the back wheel was locking up coming down the gears. Then I upgraded the suspension to set it up properly for my weight. I got Öhlins 30mm fork cartridges and a TTX36 rear shock. Next I fitted a Brembo

18-20 RCS master cylinder, Brembo M4 calipers, HEL brake lines, Brembo reservoir and 320mm front discs. Then I went crazy over the winter, fitting an HRC quick-action throttle, HM quickshifter, Akrapovic exhaust, matching Brembo clutch lever and Rizoma mirrors. Next up is a Power Commander and a dyno run. Then it might be finished. Maybe.

I’VE OWNED THIS 2006 ZX-6R 636 for six years and have been slowly modifying it. So far it has had a de-catted Arata exhaust, a Power Commander III and a K&N filter to improve the fuelling. To increase stopping power I’m running a Brembo 19-20 master cylinder, ZZR1400 front calipers with 2014 ZX-6R 310mm discs, HEL lines and EBC pads. I’m also running powder-coated black wheels, carbon-fibre trim, and have had it re-sprayed in Kawasaki green with all the decals airbrushed in carbon-fibre. There isn’t another like it.




‘The wife’s has flowers on it...’ SUZUKI GSX-R750 & 1000 PAUL JAMES

BOTH OF THESE started life as standard road bikes and have slowly evolved over the last three years. The one with the flowers is my wife’s bike. It’s a GSX-R750 K6 with a standard motor. We’ve fitted alloy Dymags, K-Tech fork internals, Öhlins steering damper, Translogic quickshifter, rearsets, carbon front mudguard and engine covers, double

bubble screen, Goodridge brake lines, quick-action throttle, lithium battery, Brembo master cylinder with EBC HH pads, and EBC discs. My K9 GSX-R1000 has an Öhlins steering damper, Öhlins fork internals, Öhlins TTX rear shock, OZ alloy wheels, Yoshi exhaust, carbon hugger, Crescent engine case covers, Gilles rearsets, Goodridge brake lines, R&G bungs, Bazzaz system, lithium ion battery, quickshifter, Brembo calipers and Brembo HPK discs.

Owning a bike shop helps take the pain out of modding for Paul and wife Katie. And satisfies the K9’s appetite for fresh rubber




STAR LETTER ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| WINS A YEAR’S SUBSCRIPTION BRING BACK WSB 750s, PLEASE! I really enjoyed reading about the new R1M in the August issue. What a cool piece of kit. The thing had me drooling – especially when you put it up against an R7 and OW01. It strikes me, though, that although the R1M is probably the sexiest bike money can buy at the moment, it’s just too fast for me. I want a little less power, especially as most of my riding is done on the road. So, I want a bike as advanced as the R1M, but delivering 140bhp and weighing even less. In short, bring back the 750. This was backed up by what Matt and Simon said about riding those bikes – how they

enjoyed riding them hard, how they enjoyed being able to thrash something. It makes me wonder what we’d all be riding on if WSB had stayed with 750s? John McKenzie By now manufacturers would have come up with even more revvy 750s, with short-stroke engines and naff-all midrange. They’d be screamers, frustrating and exciting in equal measure, but probably wouldn’t work on the road. From the point of view of us road riders, it is much harder to make a larger-capacity litre bike gutless. Even something like a ZX-10R, which on paper has the least in the middle of any litre bike is still more than usable on the road. They’d be ace on the track though! MW




While I was full of admiration for John McGuinness about his TT win in the last issue, I must say I was a bit dismayed to hear about him stealing an abandoned pizza. This is a man who, I assume, earns quite a lot of money racing bikes, but was reduced to stealing food like a tramp. Is this really the best that he can do? Ian McClean Apparently, it was down to the fact that a) he was really pissed after winning the Senior b) he’d been chucked out of a kebab shop, c) it was there d) it ‘didn’t have an uckin anchovies on it’. MW

I recently picked up a 1998 R1 for £500 that was at some point a Cat C right-off (ding in the frame) but which I am trying to resurrect as a cheap fun road and track day bike. It’s going well and I’m at the brake rebuild phase. I have braided lines and my calipers look fine but the pistons look quite pitted from being neglected and left standing for a few years. My question is do you know where or whether it’s possible to buy OE replacement pistons for the old R1? I priced up a new set from M&P and its roughly £20 a pot which is a bit salty for my budget. Any advice on resurrecting my stoppers would be greatly appreciated. Darren Blane Make sure the pistons are actually pitted rather than just dirty. Take them out and give them a good clean. But we actually think that might be you onto a good thing with those cheap pistons – their aftermarket pistons are much cheaper than Yamaha’s OE items. Alternatively you could find some new calipers. Expect to pay about £120 a pair. Yellow spot calipers off a later 02-03 R1 will also fit, and have ceramic pistons. Mark White

The 2015 S1000RR is not only more comfortable on the road b also faster on the track than the new R1 and 1299 Panigale claiming the top spot in the Rutter Test. I remember Matt Wildee being in love with the S1000R as being one of the bes sportsbikes for the street. But fo me it still too uncomfortable w not enough wind protection an not practical enough. Now with the S1000XR all that’s changed Could this be the bike combinin superbike performance with GS comfort and practicality? Chris Geuting Possibly Chris, we’ve tested it in this issue to find out. See page 10. MW

Making ends meet, the McG way


TYRE TEST QUESTION I thought the tyre test in the last issue was great, and done in a thorough way. You seem to be the only mag that tests stuff and not be afraid to say stuff isn’t good enough. One thing I do have a question over is the following: you track-tested and datalogged all the laptimes for the tyres, yet the results were based on feel, not the ultimate laptime. Why was that? Jim Cotton The reason we did this was these are tyres for road and trackdays, not racing. Therefore how they felt, how much confidence, feel and fun they gave was more important than outright times. Hope that helps. MW


Read our first test of the XR on page 10


What if 750s had stayed in WSB?

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KEEPING THE WORLD MOVING SINCE 1866™ Valvoline™ is one of the world’s oldest oil brands. With 149 years of racing innovation and experience we can truly say that performance is in our DNA. Many of our groundbreaking innovations were born on the racetrack where engines are taken to the extreme. Valvoline is proud to bring racing technology to the street. Choosing Valvoline will mean your motorcycle is getting the best lubricant a bike can get.

J O H N M c G U I N N E S S ‘The key fob ended up settling next to my ball bag’ John becomes the first in the UK to ride Honda’s RC213V-S. Hopefully they have a spare key...


Y FEET HAVEN’T touched the floor since the TT. I’ve been to F1 at Silverstone, kicking around the Mercedes garage, then speedway at Cardiff and the Goodwood Festival of Speed. What’s been the highlight? What do you think? Riding the new Honda RC213V-S of course – it’s not everyday you get to thrash a £140,000 MotoGP replica. I was down to be riding my TT Fireblade up the hill at Goodwood, pulling a few wheelies for the fans, but a couple of weeks before the event, Dave Hancock from Honda gave me a bell and said: “Do you fancy a go on the RCV road bike?” I was mega excited, especially when I heard I was the first guy in the UK to ride the bike. Honda are incredibly proud of the bike and I was asked to meet the team the day before my ride on the RCV for a ‘bike fit.’ It was funny as fuck; I was like, “Why? Have they moved the brake lever to the other side or something?” But that’s how thorough the Japanese can be. I can’t find the words to describe just how good the bike is – well not enough posh words anyway. In the flesh it is just exquisite, the craftsmanship is outstanding and the whole thing just blew me away. Some people look at a bit of art and get a hard-on, well that’s the effect the RCV had on me. I spent ages just admiring every little detail, then the closer I looked the more parts I spotted that made it even better. For a petrolhead like me it was actually therapeutic, like looking at a fish tank. I was all over it. And then they showed

me how to start it, which is where it got a little tricky. The RCV has keyless ignition, so you need to put the key fob thingy in your pocket when you ride the bike. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but my Alpinestars race suit doesn’t have a pocket. So I just slipped the fob into my leathers and did up the zip. I didn’t really think that through as during the run I could feel it working its way into my pants and settling next to my ball bag. When I handed it back to the Japanese guy after my run it was covered in cheesy winnets out of my undies, which wasn’t great. The Japanese guy didn’t say anything, but you knew in his eyes he was disgusted, especially as he had just watched me rooting around in my pants trying to locate it. I tell you, that RCV is something special to ride. I set off on it thinking, “Well, it’s only a road bike.” But it isn’t, it’s something very special. I missed that whole V4 era as I was brought up on two-strokes and not the RC30 or RC45. The first big bikes I rode were the Honda 500 V-twins before moving up to the SP-1 and then the inline fours, so while I’d heard about the V4 power delivery I’d not really experienced it before. I now understand what all the fuss is about. The RCV’s V4 engine has so much grunt it is insane, it feels like it could pull a 40ft trailer, and nearly caught me out. The throttle feeling is sublime and the connection, fuelling, gearbox, everything is near perfection. But it is still a beast, even with the electronics turned on. No disrespect to Ducati, but the Desmosedici looks like it’s going to kill you as stuff rattles around. The RCV runs like a Swiss watch. It’s precision engineering at its very best and beautiful to ride, despite being so purposeful. I was chatting to Casey Stoner about it and he reckoned you could enter a GP on it and The Morecambe Missile has embarrass a few of the regulars, that’s how close the 23 TT wins, the Senior lap road bike is to the proper racer. When Honda put their record and the fastest ever lap, at 132.701mph. He’ll minds to building something special they really nail it. be proper good Which got me thinking how it would be around the TT. one day. I think the RCV would be eligible for the Senior, but despite it being so good you couldn’t just rock up and win the race. I’d love to give it a go, but with respect to everyone involved in developing the bike it would take a while to get it set up for the TT. If I could spend a few years getting it dialled in it would be amazing. Superbikes have 210bhp, the RCV has 230bhp so it might well be quicker. Either way, it would be one hell of an experience. When I got to the top of the Goodwood hill I didn’t want to stop, I would have happily ridden the thing back to Morecambe and I’d love to have one in my garage. Naturally I tried to have a word with Honda on that front, but I’ve got more chance of shitting in the Queen’s handbag than getting one of them. Unlike Sylvain Guintoli. Sylvain got to ride the bike for two runs on Saturday and he was blown away by it, so much so he has already got permission from his wife to buy one! He’s a lucky man, in more ways than one. Not only is his wife cool with him spending £140,000 on a bike, she can even fit her whole fist in her mouth – it’s one hell of a party trick. I’ve heard whispers I might be invited to ride the RCV again at its public launch. I can’t say where or when, but if I get a chance to thrash the tits off it round a track I’ll be one happy bunny. Maybe there will be a few used ones for sale on the cheap afterwards...






1 John tries his best to keep the front up for the length of Goodwood’s hill 2 BSB star Jenny Tinmouth tries to blag a ride on the RCV 3 “Listen Casey, stick with me and you’ll go far...” 4 McG is surrounded as he prepares for his first ride on the RCV 5 Rossi politely declines John’s invitation to help look for his keys 6 RCV213V-S in full flight 7 Honda’s MotoGP replica in all its HRC-colourscheme glory



T R E V O R F R A N K L I N ‘Every time I rode a bike, my pods shot back into their cavities’ Trev reveals two permanent reminders why bikes are safer than parachuting


S MOTORCYCLISTS WE are more than aware of the dangers that riding two-wheels in a world of four, eight and 16-plus wheels can bring. And I don’t need to remind you of the destructive capability of roadside furniture, as in telegraph poles, road signs, stone walls, kerbs and the like. Wallop any of the aforementioned and you’ll feel decidedly second-hand instantly or in years to come. But one of the most painful injuries I ever received wasn’t directly from riding a bike. It was the result of a PB feature about adrenalin, and would anything top riding a bike for that ultimate rush? We dreamt up several different challenges, and a clever (then) heart rate monitor would record my heart and fart beat during them. One challenge was to ride pillion with John Reynolds on a 748 around Mallory. Another was to ride the new sooper-dooper scary ride at Alton Towers. The worst, as it turned out, was to take a tandem parachute jump. I didn’t break any bones, but something much nastier occurred. At the parachute club, I got briefed to the hilt and signed every kind of disclaimer before getting kitted out for the jump. The ‘kit’ consisted of white overalls, lightweight goggles and a thin leather skull cap. Although the cap-thing was made by French bike leather masters Furygan, I was pretty sure their cap was going to offer fuck-all in the way of protection if I hit the ground from 12,000 feet up!

While getting strapped into the tandem parachute harness, my pillion/mentor had to literally pull the straps tight with the aid of his knee against my chest. “You’re too tense,” he said. “If you don’t relax there’s a good chance the straps will come loose when you do.” I tried to relax. Five Bensons in 10 minutes had no effect. So there we are, lashed together at the front part of the plane. Several skydive dudes in plimmies and T-shirts waved bye-bye before they fell backwards through a non-existent door. Already at the point of being sick with fear and the overpowering stench of unburnt kerosene from the noisy engines, the man strapped to my back shouted it was time to go. We shuffled towards the opening to oblivion at the same time the camera specialist inched his way out and clung to the outside waiting for yours truly to jump. Before I had time to say “fook-this-for-a-game-of-soldiers,” we were hurtling through moist clouds with nothing but terrible wind rush in my head. When you see parachutes open from an airborne camera you get the impression the filmed ’chutist ferks off back up in the sky. In reality he simply stops quicker than any Brembo MotoGP brake set-up could ever provide, while the camera man carries on downwards. At the same time we jumped, my bottle blew completely and my body shut down causing the parachute straps to go, as predicted, very, very loose. When the chute opened and braked our fall, the straps got pulled up and into my groin with enough force to smash both testicles back into their original prepubescent pockets. That hurt. It hurt even more when I landed and had to push by hand my prized baubles back down into my ballbag. From that point on, every time I rode a motorcycle or crossed my legs, my pods used to shoot back into what should be disused cavities. Six or eight-hour Former road tester and endurance races were bloody painful, stomachall-round PB legend. Now a aching events for me. After a year or so of constant PR maestro, and wrestler of pike, coypu and pain, I took myself to the doctor. He diagnosed a GSX-R1000s serious problem and ordered me to go straight to hospital for further tests. The clinic for further examination was the pregnancy clinic, where mothers to be are ultrasound-scanned. I could deal with the group of preggers women laughing at the bloke waiting to be scanned. What I did have trouble with was the beautiful female sonographer backed up with equally stunning female students watching over her shoulder. Warm hands and gel can do good things to a bloke but can be construed as ‘real bad’ in the minds of six good-looking female strangers. Needless to say the scan was cut short due to my rise in temperature, but the results were obvious. My wiring was knotted tighter than a trawler net and I was in danger of losing my jewels, so I was kept in and operated on next day. During the op, my nuts were effectively removed and the tubes unwound before everything was put back in place. To prevent my bollocks from jumping ship again, the consultant stitched them in place against the internal sides of my now shaven sack. To this day, every time I step out into the cold or do something to cause the pink rucksack to shrink or expand, it fucking hurts. I can live with this reminder of a bad time. The moral of this story is I’d rather crash a motorcycle than jump out of a perfectly decent plane, even with a parachute and reserve chute in place.



2 3










1 It’s not his first experience of a strap-on 2 ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’ 3 ‘Shiiiiiiiiit!’ 4 ‘You are joking, right?’ 5 ‘Hold on, Trev, I’m going to try something cool...’ 6 ‘Triple shiiiiiiiit!!’ 7 The eyes don’t speak of confidence 8 Trev loves a good cuddle 9 Post-748 arse-battering 10 Loosen up, Trev 11 Look closely at how far his trousers have ridden up in flight. Not as far as his plumbs. 12 Trev’s conkers are well and truly back in the pink rucksack




Class is timeless. The 955i is still a refined road blaster




One of the best pre-rider aids litre bikes you can buy

Second-hand doesn’t mean second best. PB raids the small ads for the best used sportsbikes Words Chris Newbigging / Photography Simon Lee, Bauer Archive

ER’E NOT PRETENDING brilliant used bikes are some kind amazing secret we’ve uncovered: the second-hand market has always been prime pickings for the savvy sportsbike hunter on a budget. But it’s a constant surprise exactly what your money will get you, even though values of used bikes have firmed up in the last five years as new bike sales fell, and the weak pound meant a lot of motorcycles were exported to Europe. Thankfully, the effect has subsided, and the choice of second-hand machinery out there is improving again. PB spent hours examining what’s available, what sells and what it’s worth, to bring you the prime picks to suit most pockets and tastes. We found, rode and rated our favourites, and quizzed PB’s technical consultant Mark White on how to buy a good one. Prepare to raid the kids’ holiday fund once you’ve read this...




Superseded by the Panigale, the 1198S still gives us wood


A light, punchy and sexy Ducati takes some beating


Faster and better looking than a 999, cheaper than an SP-2


Great noise, great fun, great value. We’ll take two


The L1 is the same spec as the L5, but £1000s cheaper


Weird looks hide a bike that’s characterful and bloody fast. The RC8 is a PB favourite

THANKS TO Wheels Motorcycles (01733-358555) for most of these lovely used bikes







Triumph made the 955i faster and smoother than the first T595. It was as powerful as a Blade, but nicer to ride

£2K PICK 1999-2001 | £1800-£3000 | 112BHP | 225KG

1999 TRIUMPH DAYTONA 955i Tough and torquey, Triumph’s superbike is a top budget choice

UPERBIKE BUYERS WERE spoilt rotten at the end of the 1990s. You had the batshit-crazy YZF-R1, the final incarnation of the ‘original’ FireBlade and Kawasaki’s brutal ZX-9R C1/C2 to choose from. Not only that, Aprilia came out with the quirky RSV Mille, Ducati made the 916 better by evolving it into the 996, and then there was the three-cylinder Triumph T595/955i. The first six years of John Bloor’s reborn Triumph brand featured robust, competent



‘Check the hub bearings’ FIRST REVISION

This model is the pick. Better than the T595, but prettier than the 2002 overhaul

“ONE OF THE biggest problems I’ve had with these is the quick-release fuel connections. “They came with plastic parts that snap, and there is a metal replacement that Triumph will supply if you have originals. If you’re going to disturb them, buy new O-rings first. Even greasing doesn’t stop them rolling and tearing. Turn the bike on so the pump primes before you refit bodywork to check they’re not leaking. “Coughing and

Even hard-used bikes last well

Still feeling fresh good after 34,000 miles

spluttering is often the pipework on the idle air control valve. It splits and allows the bike to draw too much air in. It’s a cheap fix but a bargaining point. Check the hub bearings – they’re not cheap to sort but it’s a simple job. Fuel tanks now suffer ethanol damage. Bubbling paint and swelling causes the airbox cover at the front to crack. Not leaving fuel in the bike for long periods helps prevent this.”



They’re stunning value. Pound for pound, they tend to be better kept than Japanese alternatives Official Triumph exhaust helps aural enjoyment

but unexceptional modular design. But the T500 series bikes were new and design specifically for purpose – nothing of note was shared with the old range. They had a smart tubular aluminium frame, and a redesigned, smaller, lighter and more compact triple with Sagem fuel injection. The single-sided swingarm and styling owed a little to the 916, but to our mind there’s no shame in taking inspiration from the best looking bike ever made. The first T595s were initially praised, although they were a little too heavy and not quite powerful enough to beat the Japanese on pure speed. There were also rough edges and quality issues that needed ironing out. Two years later, Triumph updated and improved the whole package, dropped the confusing T595 tag and simply called it the Daytona 955i. The bugs were gone, but the performance deficit meant it never really caught on as a true rival to the Japanese. Which is a shame. But since then, they’ve

proven to be robust, generally better maintained by more mature owners, yet cheaper to purchase, and more individual than the swathes of inline fours. This particular one belongs to my brother, Carl, and set him back just £1000. £500 of tyres and other servicing sundries got it on the road, and ready to cover over 4000 miles of Sunday blasts, a thrap across France and a Cadwell trackday. It’s not a minter, but it’s still something to be proud of. The full two grand budget would snag a very clean example in a ready-to-go state. It doesn’t feel like a design approaching 20 years old, and certainly not one that wasn’t truly cutting-edge even then. It’s a really enjoyable, deceptively rapid road bike. The weight you notice wheeling it around lends it a reassuring stability, but it still turns and holds a line nicely. The three-cylinder motor sounds great, and once you learn to ride the midrange, it has a vast reserve of grunt that means you don’t have to disturb the gearbox too often. The Sagem fuel injection isn’t the smoothest,

Master cylinder lets decent brakes down

but it’s still better than more than a few brand-new bikes with iffy fuelling. The linear power means spinning it around to the top of the rev-counter is neither necessary nor a waste of time. It’s worth doing once in a while it just for the noise, amplified on Carl’s bike by a genuine Triumph carbon end-can. A black mark for the 955i is the mushy brakes. The calipers have been rebuilt, new lines fitted and finally the master cylinder rebuilt, but there’s still too much travel for the demands of a rider in 2015. The master cylinder fettle helped briefly before going off again, so the finger of suspicion is firmly jabbed at the lever end. It also needs a fork service – the first part of the movement is fine, but it abruptly stops short of full travel. They’re probably overfilled with oil, or suffering clagged-up damper cartridges. Surprisingly the shock is still in good shape and hasn’t needed fettling for road or track. We suspect it’s been rebuilt. But probably not by the same clown who ruined the forks.





The first ground-up rehash made the 900RR faster, sharper and more polished


Showa forks work brilliantly. Nissin four-pots stop as hard as you’ll ever need

HONDA CBR900RR FIREBLADE The best value Blade oozes the very best of Honda quality ESPITE EVIDENCE TO the contrary, Tadao Baba was still convinced a 900cc superbike offered a better overall balance than a full 1000cc motor. But by 1999, the basic design of his 1992 ground-breaker was past it, getting its arse handed to it by the ZX-9R, and then having said nether region thoroughly rogered just moments later by the Yamaha R1. So he lit a fag, and started with a clean sheet. Honda U-turned on its previous commitment to the 16-inch front wheel, and earlier claims that upside-down forks didn’t



offer a benefit, by fitting USD forks and a But once again, the passing of time puts a 17-inch wheel. different spin on it. They’re beautifully An all-new engine crept up 929cc, and made, bloody fast on road or track, with that adopted a swingarm pivot cast in to the back Honda trait of ease of use that applies to the of the crankcase (like the FireStorm) so the newest rider and national level racer. £2000 frame could be kept smaller and lighter. gets a well-cared for Blade, or a dogged R1 in It was much more with the times, and need of lots of love and money. Suddenly, within a gnat’s cock of besting the they’re a little more tempting. Some had issues with camchain R1. And on a tighter road or 2000-2001 tensioners, but otherwise they’re circuit, it arguably did. But there’s no replacement for £1500-£2800 solid. They are difficult to work on – beware of skipped services, displacement, and the arrival of 119BHP and know that it may cost extra the GSX-R1000 K1 one year later labour to have work done. properly nailed its hat on. 170KG


1999-2002 | £1800-£3200 | 99BHP | 196KG

YAMAHA YZF-R6 Supersport weapon

the hooli

on a budget

Little changed for the 2001 model update. It didn’t need it

KAWASAKI ZX-6R A1P The first ‘cheating’ 600 is easy to jump on and thrash

KAWASAKI WERE LAGGING in the 600 race in 2001. The ZX-6RJ was largely a four-yearold design, positively archaic in a time when a new model appeared every other year. Kawasaki were still quietly working behind the scenes on an all-new range to pluck themselves from the ‘also-ran’ rut they’d been stuck in for a few years (the ZX-10R C1, Z1000 and ZX-6R B1H were the result), so to prop up the ZX-6R’s appeal for a year until the all-new bike arrived in ’03, they just added 37cc. Naturally, it didn’t solve the comparatively stodgy chassis that held it back on trackdays, but it did improve the ZX-6R’s already commendable road manners by boosting the midrange, and ridden alone it’s still a good handling, stable bike. The extra cubes made it a more direct competitor for Honda’s CBR600F, and made it interesting just long enough to entertain buyers

THE R1 SET the tone for superbike development, so it should be no surprise that the vastly similar R6 that arrived a year later did the exact same in the 600 class. The little ’un was developed alongside the litre bike, and it benefitted from the same innovations and radical design to create a bike that nothing else measured up to for years. The hard-revving motor surpassed the thrashability of all 600s before it, and the compact, stacked gearbox design helped contribute to making it as short and compact as possible whilst keeping enough swingarm length to generate traction. The ‘blue spot’ Sumitomo calipers from the R1 worked even better on the flyweight 600. It creamed the supersport opposition in track tests, a trend that would continue for several years until rival manufacturers basically built their own facsimile of the Yamaha’s aggressive package. Now, you can own a piece of 600 history for peanuts. They’re still fast and aggressive enough to be entertaining, and it doesn’t take much for them to be ready to run in the fast group at a trackday. Spend time hunting a cherished bike, though – thrashed and abused bikes are widespread, and issues with cracked cylinder liners mean the end of the motor with its one-piece case/cylinders. Values have bottomed out, too, so depreciation isn’t an issue. You may even see values climb in years to come.

2002 £1600-£2700 97BHP 198KG

until the new one arrived. They’re something of a forgotten gem now, but thanks to their less than racy appearance, survivors tend to be clean and unmolested, so they’re a sound buy at this money.


2004-2008 | £3200-£5500 | 118BHP | 180KG



Exotic performance, specification and looks on the cheap OR A LONG time, ‘twin’ was synonymous with Ducati. The Desmoquattro dynasty defined how you built a two-pot superbike. Suzuki failed to match them, and Honda only bested them with full HRC support. The SP-1 had


poor suspension and fuelling traits, and the SP-2 might have fixed the ailments, but it didn’t make much impact on road riders, despite its brilliance. The first true rival came from Italy. Aprilia spent the first part of its life concerning itself with 125/250GP bikes, and learner

sportsbikes for Euro teens to live out Rossi fantasies. So the RSV1000 was a surprise. A bespoke, Rotax-built 60° V-twin powered a big, three-eyed lump of Noale-built metal. It was a stark contrast to the dainty Ducati 996. It was fast, and although it didn’t match the Ducati’s track ability, it was a better road bike. The motor packed serious low-end grunt, and if you were big enough for the bullish proportions, it was quite comfortable. A cult soon developed around the RSV. So Aprilia were playing a dangerous game when they completely redesigned the Mille in 2004. For a start, they didn’t call it a Mille – just plain old RSV1000R, with the addition of the ‘Factory’ tag for the Öhlins-suspended, radial-braked premium model. The accommodating chassis also changed for a more compact, track-oriented design, built for massive lean and apex speed. As if it


The Rotax motor is a coarse, thrashy sounding engine, but shouldn’t rattle or clank. Walk away if it does


£4000 IN MY POC 40



Aprilia robbed some midrange to beef up the top end. It’s rapid, but you need to keep it revving past 6500rpm


wasn’t enough of a departure from the much-loved original, Aprilia sacrificed some of the low-end poke and gave it more top-end rush, culminating in a 6bhp peak gain. It did cost the RSV some road manners. It wasn’t as friendly as before. But it was faster, and with four-cylinder rivals pushing out over 150bhp, that was important. Eleven years later, it also means the RSV1000R doesn’t feel as dated as it could do. Touring ability be damned – the ’Prilla is still a rapid bike. Our £4k budget would get you a Factory model with the posh running gear, but this immaculate, low-miles base model (kindly loaned by Wheels Motorcycles in Peterborough) doesn’t feel like the poor relation compared to the trick one, or even the other bikes here. It has a taut, precise feel the Italians had exclusive rights to for many years, though it

also has the thumbs-trapped-by-bars problem once common on Latin machinery. The riding position takes some getting used to, and the handling lives for speed, not dimbying around getting familiar with it. This RSV has a decent set of Pirellis on it, so I put some faith in the Italian hoops and ride it a bit harder. It’s still not hard enough – the chassis mocks the pitiful turn-in and corner speed I’m comfortable with holding on the road, on a borrowed bike. Set-up helps; it’s not unknown for Aprilias to have different settings in each fork from the factory. Fortunately, the owners manual contains details of the standard set-up, plus a baseline for trackdays, too. If you can stand a firm ride, the track settings enhance the precise nature of its suspenders. Even as it is, feel is good and this familiar Cambridgeshire B-road is traversed at some speed. The V-twin’s drive inspires confidence

coming out of corners, and the extra top end lets me hang on to gears for longer. The engine has a rough edge to it, and the noise it makes through standard exhausts is distinct from the L-twin Ducati boom. The Aprilia’s is a thrashier noise with an appeal all of its own. £4000 for an Italian superbike is stunning value. The RSV is absolutely exquisite in its detail; the extruded frame beams have a classy lustre to them, and the gull-arm swingarm is unique in that both sides are gull-shaped. Go for an early Factory model – the forged OZ Racing wheels and Öhlins gear are still decent now, all for less money than a new SV650.


There’s plenty around in both specs from the four years of production. They’re all similar to ride, though

Aftermarket exhausts enhance the boom

The meat of the power is over 6500rpm

No need for radials here

It really benefits from good set-up


‘Brake fluid boils by itself’ “STARTER CLUTCHES CAN be a problem – use a good battery and don’t try to fire it with a weak one, or keep spinning it over if it won’t start. They respond really well to balanced throttle bodies. “Clutches need a lot of bleeding to keep them working well. The rear brake master cylinder is mounted on the engine so the fluid boils by itself. Aprilia sold a heat shield, but heat still soaks through. It’s useless – a better fix is rearsets that

move the master cylinder. “It’s easy to snap a plug in the head – they’re twinspark, and one of them is awkward to access so people use universal socket joints to get at it. I’ve found bikes where the plug cap wasn’t connected because the plug was broken, but the bike was still being used on the remaining plug. Care, the right tools and putting a little copper grease on the thread will avoid this issue.”




Triumph clipped peak power a little to give it some more guts. For once, that doen’t just mean de-tuned

TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE R It’s absolutely impossible not to enjoy Triumph’s finest hour F YOU HAD to pick the best a life firmly on two wheels. bike Triumph build, The standard model is fine – there would be a unadjustable suspension and 2009 -2011 strong case for the twin-piston brakes don’t feel as £3800-£6000 antiquated as they look. But the Street Triple. Taking parts (and a little performance) away from greatest potential lies in the R 98BHP the Daytona 675 could have model. The motor is the same, made it feel second rate, but but you get the fully-adjustable 195KG Triumph put a lot of suspension and radial brakes development in to its small-bore from the Daytona. The softer settings naked, and the result is about the most fun of the stock Street Triple work better at the you can have on a powered two-wheeler. sub-100mph speeds this bike excels at. But a Earlier bikes are more fun – the old, longer few clicks on the R’s adjusters will get the stroke motor suits the naked perfectly, and same result, and you have better brakes and the punchy midrange in such a small, light the ability to dial it in for trackdays, too. bike makes it feel like a 100bhp BMX. If you They were astounding value new – a nice one can’t wheelie one of these, you need to accept for £4k is an unbelievably great purchase.




The K3/K4 GSX-R1000 is a canny purchase


Never before has revving the arse off a bike been such a user-friendly experience

2007-2008 | £3700-£4600 | 107BHP | 188KG

HONDA CBR600RR Supersport aggression made friendly


Standard model only has preload adjustment. Just get on and thrash. R gets full adjustment at both ends

THERE ARE FEW machines that make more efficient trackbikes than a Honda CBR600RR. Honda has always been good at building motorcycles that are friendly and easy for most to get on with, but they could have jeopardised that by getting embroiled in the battle for the best 600 road bike (and base for a winning Supersport racer). Somehow, they managed to build a bike capable of turning out laptimes as fast anything else, yet in such a way that the high-revving power and precise chassis could be used effectively by most people. True, the RR lost the flexibility of the old CBR600F, but for fast riding there’s a whole lot

more potential. The 2007/2008 bike represents the best value – it’s a significant update over the first two incarnations (03/04 and 05/06), but doesn’t carry the inevitable price premium of the newer, but only marginally changed, 2009-on models. It’s hard to pick fault with the CBR – it’s a well-rounded package that performs well as it comes. You don’t get much comfort, the midrange is flat and the motor lacks in X-Factor unless you thrash the absolute tits off it. But there are few bikes that are easier to go extremely fast on, and there’s massive scope for improvement, from simple suspension upgrades to full 140bhp Supersport engines.

SUZUKI GSX-R1000 One of the best GSX-R1000s, now for runaround money

THE K3/K4 1000cc GSX-R is a shrewd buy. They’re a little overlooked – the early K1/K2 is getting to the stage where it will attract nostalgic buyers after the first examples of one of the greatest superbikes in the last 15 years, but for fast riding they’re starting to feel dated. The K5/K6 has a legendary reputation (deserved, admittedly) that keeps values firm. The piggy-in-the-middle makes a great compromise of low prices and decent performance. It was a thorough update over the K1, getting an overhauled motor, new suspension (with a fly-looking black Diamond-Like Carbon fork stanchion coating to replace the K1’s flaky titanium nitride) and

radial four-piston Tokicos. The paint schemes also gives it a more grown-up feel – more subtle graphics and colour combinations make it feel more upmarket than GSX-Rs usually do. It’s no old man’s bike though – it’s a 180mph motorcycle with a chassis that will only need a suspension and brake refresh to give you serious road and track performance. If you do class yourself as an old man, however, be assured it’s more roomy and comfortable than the latest pared-down 1000s, and they’re even OK for enthusiastic (and strong-armed) pillions. No other bike in this feature offers more per pound.

2003-2004 £3200-£4500 143BHP 170KG

2008-2010 | £4000-£6250 | 165BHP | 208KG


The most involving bargain superbike money can buy B LIKES ITS litre bikes to command a little respect. Sure, we appreciate the Fireblade’s ease of use, but sometimes we want a little more spark. That’s where Kawasaki’s ZX-10R comes in. Where the Honda is refined, efficient and quick, the ZX-10R was just as quick, but angrier and harder to get the best from. That was little use for Superstock and Superbike race teams – the 08-09 bike didn’t do much on track, but for anyone interested in the road bike, it makes for a potentially much more engaging ride. The 2008 model was the first big overhaul since the barmy 2004 C1H wheelied and tankslapped its way in to superbike legend. Everything but the bore and stroke were new – the frame, suspension, brakes and engine all got a complete rethink, and were wrapped in new fairings that ditched the dumpy looks of the D-model. The wild-eyed look and sharp lines were more akin to the revered first-generation bikes. Kawasaki’s raft of changes brought more performance, but also made the performance a little easier to exploit while keeping the hard-revving, hard-edged feel that riders demand from a green meanie. There was nothing to split the laptimes of the ZX-10R and the Fireblade, but you knew you’d worked for it on the Kawasaki. The result is a charismatic, engaging chunk of 160bhp sportsbike, yet thanks to being overshadowed by the racing prowess of the 2011 relaunch, they’re generally cheaper than any other litre bike from the same period. We smell a superbike bargain. PB reader Chris Hall did, too, when he picked up this 2008 bike to partner his Ducati 999. Previous owners clearly found no fault with the performance – it’s


mechanically stock, but the mirrors have been swapped for 2011-style parts, and the black fairing infills have been replaced with aftermarket green inserts. It rides just like I remember. It’s not lacking in low-end torque, but it’s hardly grunty either. It gets by, gets you rolling at sensible speed without fuss. Like all the best Kawasakis, the rewards come from tugging on the loud-handle and revving the arse out of it. Get it past 8000rpm, and the power curve gets a bit steeper, and the digital dash panel changes like the altimeter on a nose-diving plane. The airbox resonates as the ram-air feeds the motor, and it doesn’t take much for it to be rising up to meet your face. The Kawasaki’s tall, slim feel works for taller riders – you feel much more a part of the bike than



‘Check the head bearings’ “GENERALLY, THEY’RE A really solid motorcycle – I’ve certainly not come across any major or recurring issues with the many examples I’ve

worked on. They’re just the sort of bike that spend their lives on one wheel, so make sure you check chains/ sprockets, head bearings plus the

gearbox and clutch for premature wear. “I’d fit a 190/55 rear tyre, too, just to help with the steering – I’ve not ridden a bike with a six-inch rim yet that




didn’t benefit from the taller profile a 190/55 brings. “Chris reckons Dunlop GP Racer rubber worked well on the one he rode.”

you would perched on something more waifish, and it’s easy for me to chuck the ZX-10R around. It’s stable, too – not always a Kawasaki trait, but it stays in line even at speed, and it doesn’t get out of shape if you chuck the front wheel in the air. I once got from Mallory Park to Peterborough in a seriously indecent time across the bumpy


backroads of Leicestershire and Rutland without one wobbly moment. The radial Tokico calipers on this one aren’t much cop – I recall them being better than this, and Chris’s bike already has braided hoses. I suspect the pads are glazed or contaminated – a few hard stops help clean them up a little, but chucking a decent set of sintered pads in would stand it on its nose again. For those after even more braking, the Nissin radial calipers from ZX-6Rs and ZZ-R1400s are a popular mod, but for anything short of very hard track use, servicing and fitting the originals with decent hoses and pads should do the trick. We can’t understand why they’re not more popular – they’re a fast, striking, well-made and thrilling bike. And a lot of bike for £6000.


Three years of production, but the Fireblade sold much better. Less choice, more bike better exclusivity




It needs revving, but it’s exciting when you do. Midrange fans best find themselves a Honda Green numbers show where the fun is


Our budget should get you a mint one, or save a few quid on an average bike

Ray gun exhaust isn’t a looker

Some owners fit ZZR14 calipers

Steering damper is near-essential





2009-2010 £5500-£7200 86BHP 190KG

The Monster as it should be – air-cooled and angry HE MONSTER 1100S is PB’s favourite version of Ducati’s unmistakable legend. They’re always at their best looking when air-cooled, rather than with pipes, radiators and ugly water-jacket cases. The aggressive nature of the four-valve motors never really feels truly at home either – the midrange of the two-valve bikes makes for a much more rounded ride. The 2009 model was the first complete redesign of the Monster – Ducati ditched the superbike-powered variant, and gave it the latest version of the air-cooled belt-cam engine. The 1100 engine is one of the all-time greatest road engines, and perfectly suited to the Monster. A torquey 90-ish bhp gives all the fun you need for the sub-ton speeds this sort of bike should be designed for, and it’ll wheelie until you get vertigo. There was more to the new look than style – the frame was the first to be purposedesigned for the Monster. All previous models used frames closely derived from obsolete sports models, and weren’t always


optimal for the Monster, but the 1100 was the best yet – especially if you paid extra for S-spec with Öhlins suspension. You might wonder why we didn’t choose the revised Evo model. It’s simple – we don’t like it as much. You’re paying for extras like traction control, which just aren’t needed. We prefer the high-level silencers of the older model to the stacked shotgun exhausts introduced in 2011 – why have a single-sided swingarm and cover it up? The first 1100 remains the best compromise of Monster purity and performance – the new 1200 might be faster, but it’s a serious piece of kit that doesn’t really fit Monster philosophy to our minds. Other than the usual Ducati Marmite traits – chuggy L-twin power, heavy/rattly clutch and less than fantastic steering lock, there’s little to complain about. The belts themselves are cheap, and the swap is simpler than the DOHC Dukes. They’re even good on fuel, and comfortable (as far as naked bikes go). It’s one of the best bikes Ducati ever made, and a great used buy.

2008-2015 | £5200-£10,000 | 152BHP | 188KG

KTM RC8 Austria’s origami superbike

IT TOOK KTM years to work up to a full superbike from its dirt bike origins, but the result was as outrageous and individual as we hoped it would be. The RC8 used a bigger, fettled version of the LC8 engine that had already spent a few years powering hooligans on Super Dukes about the place. The running gear is fairly standard Euro superbike kit – WP suspension, Brembo brakes, tubular steel frame. The finishing details are what set the KTM apart from a Ducati. For a start, there’s the styling. It dates back to the the 2004 990 RC8 concept bike, yet it still looks current. And although KTM managed competitive figures on spec sheets, they managed to make the dimension and ergonomics suitable for normal blokes rather than waifish test riders. There’s plenty of leg room, the bars aren’t too low and the fairing is effective. An innovation still not matched by anyone else is the level of adjustability – the handlebars and footpegs can be moved, but also the subframe, to suit riders of different sizes and preferences. You get superbike performance with very good sports-tourer ergonomics. OK, the first ones weren’t really on a par with rivals. They’re a bit crude. too – fixing the fuelling needs to be high on your list of priorities. But they’re still fast enough to pick up the front at 100mph in third, handle well and have plenty of scope for fettling and improvement. KTM honed them as the years went by – pick up the newest you can find, or an RC8-R if you see one you can afford.



The air-cooled 2v motor only got better with more capacity. It’s the most fun you can have with less than 100bhp


Öhlins suspension is standard on the S. Fine adjustment and track performance is better, but so is ride quality

SUZUKI GSX-R600 The best-value late-model 600 supersport bike

POOR OLD SUZUKI. After a few years of playing catch-up with their 600, they finally got it back on a level with the R6 and Daytona 675 ruling the class. It didn’t break new ground – it was just a good 600, with the usual Suzuki benefit of being a bit cheaper. And then the market for new 600s slumped. What was once a hotly-contested class dropped off the radar for buyers. It’s recovering now (Wheels Motorcycles, who loaned us the bike on the cover reckon they’re selling more new/used supersport bikes than they have for years), but Suzuki’s efforts weren’t really rewarded with sales. So we’re giving the L1-onwards 600 the recognition it deserves. Suzuki shaved loads of weight, gave the motor more midrange and gave it a set of Showa Big Piston forks, with a set of radial Brembo calipers hanging from the bottom for good measure. It’s a sweet, confidence inspiring bike that’s easy for anyone to ride. It’s preferable to the 750 in some ways – the close-ratio gearbox is better on track, and also makes better use of the power, making it a more involving ride. Like all GSX-Rs, stock pads and tyres aren’t much cop, but they’re a quick, cheap change that’ll probably be due on a used bike anyway.

2011-2015 £5700-£7000 125BHP 187KG

The GSX-R spirit is still there, but ease of use makes it faster for more people



2009-2011 | £7600-£11,000 | 155BHP | 193KG

2009 DUCATI 1198S


The pinnacle of Desmoquattro development

THERE ARE FEW more prestigious (and traceable) model lineages than the Ducati four-valve Desmos. The 1198 would prove to the ultimate development of Massimo Bordi’s 1988 work of engineering brilliance. The four-valve engine was designed for WSB


from the outset, and competitive from start to finish. Not bad, considering Fabio Taglioni (creator of Ducati’s desmodromic valve operation) poo-pooed the idea and initially blocked the development of the belt-cam DOHC engine by his engineering colleague. Naturally, the 851 and 1198 are worlds apart in performance. But the basic

architecture remained – the steel trellis was in continuous development, and the engine gained incremental capacity increases plus further innovations like the narrow-angle Testastretta heads derived from F1 design. The evolution was such that many parts and improvements from the last bikes can be retro-fitted to the earliest. Such a development path unsurprisingly yielded a brilliant bike. The 1198.4cc engine is not only laiden with tyre-smearing drive, but builds in to a hard-hitting 155bhp top end. It’s a brutal bike that smashes the lazy image of older V-twins, yet retains the ability to conserve momentum. There’s none of the frenetic mind-melting of an inline four, yet it’s still a buzz to put the hammer down. It’s a good thing that Ducati didn’t stay too far in the past with the chassis, then. The single-sided swingarm made a return to the Ducatifor aesthetic and heritage reasons, but

Brembo brakes are savage

Carbon clutch cover adds sex appeal

Race-style digi dash





Ducati engineered the beefy arm to make sure it was up to it. A rigid frame, radial Brembos and Öhlins forks (Marzocchi on the base model) imbue the 1198 with precise and laden with confidence-inspiring feedback. The Ducati trait of slow-steering is largely absent – it’s no 250, and it still suits railing through faster bends rather than banging it in to slow turns, but Ducati improved turn-in speed without making it unstable. The adjustable rear linkage tie bar means faster steering is only five minutes away. The brakes match the savagery of the engine. Brembo’s latest calipers have a bit of progression, but the 1198’s monoblock stoppers grab like a handbag thief from the moment the pads touch the 320mm discs. The 1198’s traction control is a crude set-up, so it’s best left turned off. It’s no worse for it – do the same with a Panigale and you’ll soon dicover it’s a bike designed to have electronic management of everything it does.

It’s nice to ride a fast motorcycle on your own terms sometimes, as much fun as the computer game speed of the latest digital superbikes can be. The other benefit of a non-interfering ECU is the 1198 is free to lift the forged aluminium Marchesinis high and often. Feel free to come down to the office and give us a good kicking if we ever get bored of bikes that power wheelie out of 60mph corners, and over any sort of crest. The bike I rode is subtle and classy in black over the 916-tribute gold frame/wheels. It’s not quite as timelessly beautiful as a 916, but even Ducati seem to have accepted that’s an insurmountable task. The 1198 still looks great eight years after we first saw this body style, and they’re now worth the same as rival machines that would have been the cheaper option at the time. It might be the most expensive bike here, but it’s still excellent value and highly recommended.


‘Be punctual’ “BELTS BARELY NEED to be mentioned. Like any Ducati, change them on time, and don’t run a bike way over the limit. Clutch baskets wear out, and the dry plates have a fairly short life. There’s plenty of tougher slippertype replacements when the time comes. The valve

service interval is still 7500 miles on these engines; make sure it’s done on time. “The fuel pump filter needs replacing every few years, too – not difficult in itself, but some of the fittings are fragile. And be careful not to overtighten the bolts in the tank.”




The last Ducati superbike with a frame. The Panigale bolts everything around its engine

The same power as Foggy’s 1994 WSB bike, with road bike service intervals

Adjustable linkage tie-bar speeds steering


Year, accessories and colour mean a wide spread in value





2009-2014 £1500-£2800 162BHP 206KG

Live out your Valentino fantasies on the road HAT TOOK YAMAHA so long? The MotoGP YZR-M1 got a crossplane crank when Rossi arrived in 2004, but it took until 2009 for the road-going superbike to get its crank pins staggered at 90-degree intervals, rather than two pairs sitting at 180 degrees as is the norm for an inline four. The idea of the crossplane crank is to give more linear inertia, to give more feel and drive at low-mid rpm. Pistons come to a dead stop at the top and bottom of the stroke, so the crank is subject to the strain of reaccelerating pistons. A 180-degree crank


means all four pistons come to a stop at once, and the conrod’s leverage ratio on the crank means it’s constantly changing in its inertia. By spacing the firing and crank pin positioning, Yamaha reduced the effect of fluctuating inertia. Each piston is countering the effects of another, meaning the crank spins in a more linear fashion. What that means for the man holding the twistgrip is a connection between brain and rear tyre like no inline four before. The 2009 R1 allows ordinary riders as well as racers to get the power down in confidence and safety, and gives it a unique character – the layout

creates vibes that are partially damped out by a balancer, but just enough remain to give it some charisma. And then there’s the sound. It’s similar to a V4, but distinct – there’s no mistaking the sound of a crossplane R1s being caned. Editor Matt put 30,000 miles on one, and I spent several thousand miles with another. It wasn’t perfect – the layout makes for a wide engine, and it’s not the lightest, so as the S1000RR and 2011 ZX-10R came along it was fairly easily usurped as the fastest track tool. But if you’re not fussed by what the stopwatch says, it’s massively pleasurable and competent on track still. And they work really well on the road. Eight grand gets you a newer bike than our other choices here, too, allowing you to avoid the gopping pink frame the white 2009 bikes came with, too.


Funny crank makes it drive beautifully at the expense of low-end grumpiness


PB editor loved his R1, and reckons the new one isn’t as nice on the road



2010-2015 | £8000-£10,500 | 180BHP | 213KG

MV AGUSTA F4 Flawed, but fast and sexy MV AGUSTA F4s have never been as good as rival bikes. Harsh, but true. And also largely irrelevant. You buy an MV because you really want one, and its position in a road test pecking order is unlikely to have any bearing on your purchase. They’ve always been good-handling, exquisitely-designed and enhanced with a feeling of owning something a little different to the usual Japanese four. A bit of iffy reliability, crap ergonomics and carrying a few extra kilos doesn’t detract from the experience. The new-for-2010 model’s all-new frame around a heavily tweaked motor made the F4 lighter, more compact and more competitive. Though being launched in the same year as the BMW S1000RR was unfortunate. Some things didn’t change – the high-spec chassis was poorly set up as it came from the factory, and some loyal MV owners moaned the new bike was actually slower than the big-bore 1078RR it replaced.

Spend some time fettling it, though, and the improvements are allowed to shine, and you’re rewarded with a bike that’s easier to get the best from than any of MV’s previous efforts. Make sure the airbox seal recall has been performed though – Matt was nearly rocketed across the Fens flat in second when some grit jammed the throttle bodies on one of the first in the UK, but MV solved the issue. They’re coarse, and don’t suit slow riding. But what Italian sportsbike ever did? For thrashes on hot days on perfect roads, little will make you feel the way an F4 can, and it’ll run with the best on a trackday, too.

BMW S1000RR The benchmark superbike for the last five years WELCOME BACK FROM your cave-dwelling sabatical. Just so you know, BMW are cool now, and their superbike is the best in the world. It was the first one to traction control, and it’s been the bike everyone else has tried to beat for the last five years. For the rest of us who know how brilliant the Beemer is, we’ll look at why you might spend your overtime earnings on a used one. It’s always a gamble buying first-year models, but it’s telling that BMW haven’t messed with it too much. The 2015 model is two steps removed from the first bike, but they’re incremental tweaks rather than a drastic overhaul. A new one is £14,760, and makes 196bhp.

It’s wonderful. But an early model is under £8000, and still makes 185bhp. The electronics are plenty good enough for ordinary folk to lap race circuits as fast as the lumpy things in their trousers will allow, and the 600-like agility will get you through corners almost as quickly as you arrived at them. A new one is difficult to justify in those terms. The only downside is the same as any other popular model: they’re everywhere, and if you like a bit of attention, your ego may suffer as nobody pays attention to yet another S1000RR. That’s no reason to put you off – get some plain black gear, briefly blend into the crowd before leaving them all in your dust.

Bag yourself one of these beauties and you won’t be able to take your eyes off it

2010-2015 £7100-£13,000 185BHP 208KG

Almost £7000 less than a new one, and still excellent after five years




Worn, mismatched or just plain shit tyres ruin way too many old bikes. Spend a little, and ride happier

It pays to go through any used bike carefully before riding. PB keeps pro mechanic Mark White in captivity for his sage advice THE ONCE OVER

“Take the fairings off, and give it a through clean. It’s nice to have it spotless from the start – it’s easier to keep it nice that way, but it also gives you a chance to familiarise yourself with the bike before you need to work on it in a hurry. Replace rounded fasteners, and clean/ grease/threadlock any that might be susceptible to seizure later on.”


“Don’t lay a deposit down without performing your own HPI check. It’s £25 well spent to know you’re not going to have the bike repossessed by a finance firm, and that you’re not paying top whack for a Cat C write-off. It’s not unknown for dodgy types to forge certificates, so get your own and be confident when you lay the cash out.”


“Don’t believe anyone who says they serviced it ready to sell. It’s too easy to have a dealer mate stamp the book, or for a selling dealer to change the oil and declare it serviced. Air filters and plugs are easy to get away with, and if you’ve bought on or near the valve clearance interval, look for signs the valve cover has been disturbed. If in doubt, do it again.”


Chassis bearings are also widely neglected. Make them good, and it’ll feel like new all over again

BEARING CHECK Check disc bobbins haven’t lost their wave washers

Set the suspension up properly, or at least to standard


“Original fork oil is low quality, and anything over five years old needs flushing out. Even newish bikes are improved by better quality oil. Shocks go off at the same rate, but even if they’re still relatively fresh it’s worth setting them up to suit your weight. At the very least, make sure they’re at factory settings – botched settings and mismatches between forks are more common that you’d think.”



“Get the bike off the floor, remove the wheels and check every bearing – grease them all and replace any that are dodgy. It’s one of the most neglected areas of the service, especially when the warranty expires and people either do it themselves, or only pay for a basic fluids/filters service.” Single-sided rear ends are worth close inspection


Whitey never takes service history at face value. Check the work has been done, or do it again if you’re not sure


Another must-do that generally isn’t. Sort them and damn the expense: be faster and safer

Get right in to it: know it inside out


“Give the technical department of the bike’s manufacturer a call with the frame number, and find out what recalls were due, and if they’ve been carried out. It doesn’t really matter how old it is – this Triumph for example should have had replacement fuel connectors years ago, but Triumph will still replace the faulty type free of charge.” Wheel bearing and brake checks are a must


“You shouldn’t really trust swingarm adjuster marks, but you should trust previous owners’ ability to get wheel alignment right even less. Ten minutes fiddling around with two straight edges is all you need to be sure the wheels are in line, and you’ll also find out how accurate the swingarm marks are.”


“Put a multimeter across your battery to check its condition. Fire it up and check the charging system, too. Go through every connector you can reach, and clean before checking the terminals are secure and greasing them. It’s fairly quick, and it could save a breakdown or the cost of replacing parts that have failed due to crusty terminals building up resistance.”


“The amount on tread on the tyres is almost the last thing you need to be worried about. There are plenty of people riding around believing their tyres are fine because there’s loads of rubber left on them. Check the date stamp for a start, and then look closely for them being out of shape or worn strangely. A huge number of people don’t check pressures often enough, and it creates steps between tread or troughs around the circumference. If you’re in any sort of doubt, £250 for new rubber is a small percentage of what you’ve already spent, and being on good rubber improves performance, safety and enjoyment. Being stingy with them is madness.”




Winner of a third place award in a stag do go-kart race in 2005. Moderately competent home mechanic who extended his mortgage to buy a comprehensive toolkit. Has recently rebuilt his Yamaha RD350LC.


1993 500GP world champ and winner of 25 races during his 10-year spell in the premier class. One of the most popular riders of GP racing’s golden era, he last won a GP in 1994 before injury forced his retirement in 1995.



Words Jon Urry Photography Paul Bryant and World GP Bike Legends

‘A TOUCH MORE PREBOUND KEVIN?’ PB spanners for GP legends Kevin Schwantz and Didier de Radigues at Jerez’s World GP Bike Legends meeting


ANG. BANG. BANG. Flashguns go off in my eyes as the serenity of our garage is shattered. A wall of photographers aim their lenses in my direction and behind them fans jostle, autograph books and cameras at the ready. We’re at Jerez’s three-day World GP Legends event, where the greats of racing go head-to-head for the first time in years. Feet away, Kevin Schwantz prepares himself to go out on track to take on the likes of Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner and Christian Sarron. But this time it’s different – Kevin and his RGV are a bit older, and PB is preparing his bike. What could possibly go wrong? To be honest, quite a lot, and that’s why I’m shitting it. Despite the fact Nathan Colombi, Team Classic Suzuki’s mechanic, has been keeping a close eye on me, a lot can still go wayward. I know the prep and glance up at Nathan for a signal. It’s his job to connect the RGV’s power-valve battery and turn its fuel tap on. Once he does this we will remove the tyre warmers, drop the bike off its stands and Nathan will push Kevin out of the garage, at which point Schwantz will drop the clutch and the pre-warmed RGV will fire into life. I crouch down and with jittery fingers make a right balls-up of trying to get the rear tyre warmer off, catching the strap in between the RGV’s wheel and swingarm. It’s like being a teenager again, trying to remove a bra for the first time with shaking hands. A thud through the bike tells me that Nathan has already got the front warmer off and the stand away. Once I finally get mine off I look up to see Schwantz already sitting on the bike and Nathan waiting for me to remove the rear paddock stand. The RGV’s rear SEPTEMBER 2015 | PERFORMANCEBIKES.CO.UK


Any oil leaks collect in bellypan Belgium’s most exciting export

wheel hits the floor and instantly is moving forward as Nathan propels Kevin out of the garage. But I haven’t got the stand completely out and I’m gripped by a moment of panic. Visions of Kevin firing the RGV into life and exiting the pit in a shower of sparks as the stand is dragged behind him flash through my mind. Thankfully, the stand pops clear of its obstruction and I’m left to breathe in a lungful of two-stroke as the RGV barks into life. That’s Kevin out for first practice. Only the three races to go... Usually when you read features in magazines where a journalist spends a day ‘helping out’ a WSB or GP team it is basically artistic licence. So, when Team Classic Suzuki agreed to let me help Nathan run Kevin Schwantz on his 1994 RGV500 and Didier de Radigues on Nobby Aoki’s 1998 RGV500, I was expecting an easy ride. I didn’t get it. I experienced a small taste of what life was like for a full-on 500GP mechanic in the golden era of two-stroke racing. Terrifying and amazing in almost equal measures. Arriving at the team’s garage on the morning of practice day, Nathan has both bikes already on paddock stands with their lower fairings removed. Despite being immaculately prepared back at his Northampton base before being shipped to Spain, it’s not a case of simply firing them up and sending the riders out. Before either Didier or Kevin can take to the track we run a series of pre-race safety checks, starting with the engine. Nathan points me towards a starter donkey (one of those go-kart wheels attached to a four-stroke motor) and instructs me to push it against the RGV’s rear wheel and give it full revs while he squirts a bit of brake cleaner into the airbox. How hard could it be? As it turns out, not that tricky, but after getting showered with a face full of rubber and grit as the rear wheel gets up to speed, I realise I’m not sure if I will be able to hear if the RGV is running over the din of the roaring starter. I decide to watch for a puff of two-stroke smoke from the four exhaust pipes and take that as my cue to pull the donkey away. Despite being a few feet away from the rear of an RGV, such is the noise in the garage this is the only way to be sure. As the motor bursts into life, I remove the donkey and take over the warm-up. Assuming I can twist a throttle the right way, Nathan instructs me to keep blipping the RGV until the temperature gauge reaches 60°C. The smell, the noise, the vibrations send shivers down my spine. Anyone within earshot descends on the garage,

armed with a camera phone. Careful not to get too excited, I follow the same series of blips then Even an RGV likes constant revs as some brake cleaner Nathan is applying to in its airbox the other RGV until I see ‘60’ on the dash’s small LCD display. At this point, he instructs me to take the revs closer to 12,000rpm while he watches to see if the power-valve servo motor opens to its full capacity. A few ear-splitting blips later and Nathan pulls the clutch in and pushes a red button on the left hand bar to kill the motor. Cool as hell. Next job is the tyre pressures (28psi rear, 31psi front if you ever own an RGV), fit the tyre warmers then re-attach the bellypan. Considering it is held on by three half-turn Dzus fasteners each side this would seem an easy task. It isn’t. Teams treated the fairings as consumables and were quite rough with them. In 1994 this wasn’t an issue as they had a stack in the truck, but when you are bending and forcing a genuine, irreplaceable, carbon/Kevlar fairing that Schwantz used in 1994 onto a bike it feels wrong. Apparently the top fairing is even harder to get on and off as it is held under a bit of tension to make it more aerodynamic. Luckily the Aoki bike’s fairing is


considerably easier to deal with and I manage to re-attach its bellypan without assistance. Both bikes are now ready for practice. Practice over and Nathan and myself wait in the pitlane like expectant fathers, although instead of flowers we are clutching paddock stands. A hooter sounds and the bikes start to roll down pitlane. With both bikes back in the garage we remove their fairings to prep them for the race in a few hours. Didier has asked for the shock to be adjusted slightly as he is lacking a bit of rear grip, so Nathan does that and then takes the rear wheel off to get a new slick fitted. The Schwantz bike, on Is that a beard hair the other hand, is dripping fuel. blocking I remove the bellypan and Nathan takes off the jet? the carbon airbox cover (located behind the front wheel), which reveals a bank of magnesium carbs and an airbox full of petrol. Out come the spanners and suddenly I’m assisting in removing a £20,000 set of carbs from Schwantz’s RGV500. Nathan is on one side of the bike, I’m on the other, and tools are pushed under the engine as we loosen the carbs and remove them together. I feel like a proper GP mechanic. Minus the talent. Using a carbon drip tray (how factory is that?) Nathan expertly identifies the offending carb, removes its float bowl, and with the float needle assembly out spots a

Schwantz leads, Jon nervously prays that nothing falls off

Schwantz may be over 50, but he’s still bloody rapid

An RGV has almost zero turning circle

Like giving a child a loaded gun

hair blocking the fuel feed. We reassemble the carbs and put them back in the bike as a mass of Spanish fans watch on. The whole procedure takes less than 20 minutes but word has spread that there is a naked RGV on display and the vultures are circulating. With race one now a few minutes away, we warm the bikes up and I’m given a lesson on how to start the Aoki bike. It’s different to Schwantz’s as it has a push-button battery isolator (it’s a road bike unit) rather than an electrical connector, and a fuel tap that is bastard stiff to turn and feels like it will break at any second. Once again I man the donkey starter and suffer two minutes of two-stroke smoke blasted in my face as I struggle to fit a rear tyre warmer while Nathan revs the engine. I think he did that on purpose. After the chaos of practice the riders assemble at the far end of the paddock so the fans can see them and hear the bikes close up, so Nathan and myself push the RGVs through the open paddock. Schwantz’s bike is treated like a rock star and the fans swarm around it, virtually ignoring the Aoki bike I’m pushing.

Arriving at the collecting area we are told the plan has changed and the riders are back where we started. Nathan hops on the Schwantz bike and gets a push start. I follow suit on the Aoki bike. I cruise down the pitlane in shorts, T-shirt and Converse trainers riding an RGV500. Until I get to where the riders are waiting and realise I don’t know how to turn the motor off. I push the battery isolator but the bike keeps running, Nathan points to a button below it and much to my relief that kills the motor. Over the next few minutes we are joined in the pits by a range of two-stroke GP bikes and their riders. Spencer, Gardner, Sarron, Schwantz, de Radigues, Crosby, Parrish, Read – the paddock is a who’s who of legends. I stand by the RGV, waiting nervously for Didier to arrive and hoping it won’t flood as I’ve already turned that bastard of a fuel tap on. When he does he sits on the bike and I ask if he wants it off the paddock stand. “No rush,” is his answer. Then, when the row ahead of us clears away, he says “OK,” and I drop the bike off the stand, give it a shove and breathe a sigh of relief as it fires into life and Didier exits the pits. The next 20 minutes are a weird mix of noise, colour, relief and tension as I’m glad my bike has made it on track, but I’m worried I failed to spot something or haven’t done up a nut tight enough. In the end all is good and Didier finishes in second place, giving me an unexpected (and ungainly) sprint up the pitlane to the holding area clutching a paddock stand.

As the riders go to the podium, myself and Nathan (Schwantz got third) wheel the bikes back to the pit where we give them a clean and a thorough safety check. As I’m busy using brake cleaner to try and get the rubber marks off the rear rim I look up to see Didier there, still in his leathers and clutching a trophy. “Thanks,” he says and hands it to me. I try and give him one of those cool handshakes but fail miserably. Nathan and myself spend a few hours checking the bikes over. A bit of oil in the bellypan is expected but we discover one nut has vibrated off on the Aoki bike’s footpeg assembly so that’s replaced and lock-wired. Even in a ‘demo race’ like the Legends event, these bike are run hard and it’s not uncommon for a split-pin on a disc rotor to break or a sprocket nut to shear. But all is good. Plus, having proved myself, tomorrow I’ll take over from Nathan as Schwantz’s crew chief. As with the day before, we start by warming the bikes up just before the race, but this time I’m in charge of the No. 34 machine. With a few minutes to go I wheel it out into the pit and am instantly surrounded by TV cameras and selfie hunters. I place the bike on its stand at the front of pitlane and turn to see Schwantz standing there with his lid on. I ask if he enjoyed a few beers last night at the Bonnie Tyler concert. He looks confused and I suspect he can’t hear me as he is wearing earplugs. Then a marshal points at the bike and signals we should leave the pit. Schwantz turns on the fuel tap and I gently lower the bike to the ground off its paddock stand. Only one problem to overcome – starting. What they don’t tell you about an RGV is that the seat unit which you push on is quite fragile as the subframe ends under the rider’s seat. Nathan has pre-warned me of this and said the best pushing technique is to hook one thumb in a hole just behind the seat as you can then push on the subframe while keeping one hand on the tail unit. Hooking my thumb nervously in the hole I give Schwantz a shove, run like buggery and at the first hint of an engine

firing up get it out as fast as possible. I’m left puffing and panting, trying to avoid the 20 other two-strokes that are following Schwantz out on track. The race sees both our RGVs on the podium again, so it’s another sprint up pitlane to the holding area to collect the bikes. Once again Didier hands me the trophy with a smile. This time I play it cool and congratulate him on his wheelies rather than attempt a handshake. Kevin is mobbed by the fans. Then, it’s

‘I ASK KEVIN IF HE ENJOYED THE BONNIE TYLER GIG. HE LOOKS AT ME CONFUSED’ back to the pits where we clean and check the bikes before the final race, which Schwantz wins, sending the crowds into overdrive. I know all I’ve done is a few menial tasks, and started his bike, but I’m choked. Three races, five podiums and no broken machines. I reckon I did OK, but there is no way I could do it as a job. When the pressure was on, my hands turned to jelly, while Nathan was always composed. But he has worked in F1 as well as BSB so is used to the pressure. “It’s all about routine,” he says when I ask him how he does it. “Don’t rush, be calm and focus on the job in hand. Even when you are physically shattered, if you follow the procedures you won’t make a mistake.” Just as I’m leaving, Schwantz walks over in shorts and a T-shirt, shakes my hand and just says, “Thanks”. He didn’t have to, but he did, and that’s why he is such a star. The riders all appreciate the job the mechanics do and it is their dedication to detail that keeps them safe at 180mph. I just wish I had washed the oil, brake cleaner and rubber off my hand before I shook Kevin’s.

THANK YOU To Team Classic Suzuki and especially Nathan and Steve for allowing us to work on the bikes. Thanks also to Kevin for putting up with PB and also everyone at the amazing World GP Bike Legends event. For info on the 2016 event, visit:

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SCHWANTZ’S RGV500 STRIPPED PB goes under the skin of Kevin Schwantz’s own 1994 XR84, before Urry breaks it

ENGINE The RGV’s 498cc (56mm x 50mm) 80° V4 two-stroke motor with reed induction is liquid cooled and makes 65bhp @ 12,800rpm. It is fed through four 36mm magnesium Mikuni flat-slide carbs.

CHASSIS The aluminium beam fame is all hand-built and welded and the 1994 RGV features the iconic ‘banana swingarm’, which first appeared in 1989 on the Pepsi RGV500.

BRAKES AP six-piston billet aluminum calipers with steel AP 320mm discs. Discs have a smaller


swept area compared to a modern disc as the AP calipers run smaller pads.

WHEELS Suzuki initially ran Marchesini threespoke, 17-inch magnesium wheels, but by 1994 they went to a five-spoke design as the increased braking forces were causing the threespoke wheels to flex.

FORKS Suzuki ran Kayaba suspension until 1997. The RGV has 43mm upside-down forks with separate compression, rebound and spring preload per fork. Fork bottoms are made of magnesium.

FAIRING The fairing is made of a carbon/Kevlar mix for strength and flexibility except where the datalogging antenna is located. Carbon blocks radio waves so this section is pure Kevlar weave.

RADIATORS The RGV runs a quad-core system with four individual radiators stacked behind one another.

TWO POWERVALVE SYSTEM The RGV has two servo-operated powervalve systems. The first servo is located in the cockpit, turning a shaft via cables that lift two guillotines (one in


each cylinder) in the top cylinders. From this shaft, a series of rose joints and shafts run down the bike to turn a similar pair of guillotines in the lower two cylinders simultaneously. The system is operated at high revs as it increases the size of the exhaust port to allow more gas out. A separate servo is located under the engine. It turns a shaft with two barrel power-valves (again, one per cylinder) on the lower bank before a pair of cables run off it to turn another shaft and barrel power-valve system in the top cylinders. The barrel is open at low revs and

feeds the gasses into an expansion chamber on the cylinder head, fooling the engine into thinking it is running a wider exhaust and creating more low-end torque.

QUICKSHIFTER The 1994 bike was the first RGV to run a quickshifter, which is basically just a road bike’s sidestand cut-off switch.

EXHAUST The full titanium system has carbon end-cans. The factory bikes all run titanium as it is lighter than steel. There are little magnesium dumbells on the mounting points to damp out vibrations.

SHOCK Kayaba unit has high and low-speed compression damping 12 years before we saw it on a road bike.

SUBFRAME The stubby subframe is aluminium. In 2000 the RGV got a selfsupporting carbon unit.

FUEL The aluminum tank holds 32 litres as the RGV guzzles leaded Avgas at less than 10mpg. It runs a 25:1 premix. The team use Castrol 747 fullysynthetic two-stroke oil, at £17 a litre.

GEARS The RGV has a 520-pitch chain with

‘Just when you thought you were on top of it, you’d fly through the air’ “I GET TO ride my RGV every six months or so and I really enjoy getting back on it. I know the aging process of these things and a few extra rpm can be critical to parts surviving so I’m generally quite gentle on them. I try not smashing gears on downshifts like when I was racing. That said, a little while ago at Mallory I was on track with Foggy and I gave it everything to pass him, just so he knew I wasn’t fucking around. “When I was in GPs I had to be on it every lap, every session, shifting as hard as I could. The revs would make it to 12,000rpm but it wouldn’t pull past 12,500rpm and so as soon as the needle started to creep up to 12,000rpm you got ready to shift. And downshifting, you just knocked the gears down and if it started to hop or get out of shape you worried about using the clutch to get it back in line. “When Daryl Beattie was my team-mate we started to have cranks twisting, which didn’t break them but messed up the firing order and kind of de-tuned the bike. Looking at the telemetry, he was getting the first downshift in before he had closed the as small sprockets as possible. The larger the rear sprocket, the more chance the bike will wheelie due to the torque reaction around the rear wheel. The RGV’s six-speed cassette gearbox has three different options per gear (it can be removed and changed within 20 minutes), as well as different front and rear sprockets.

throttle! That’d probably move the crank. “Riding in classic events reminds me how much fun an RGV is. It’s fun to get it sliding and trying to drive it in on the brakes. You think, ‘Oh, that scares me’, but you can still pull it up in time, make the corner then get back on the gas as early as possible and look at the black line you left on the next lap around. “I ride four-strokes but they are boring when compared to a V4 two-stroke. At Suzuka last year I was riding a GSX-R1000 and the electronics are so good it’s easy. Once you figure out what they will allow you to do, you just pull the throttle wide open and the spin control covers your ass. “On a 500GP bike you never got a chance to rest. You didn’t fight the bike; when they were good they were lovely, but just when you thought you were on top of things a d did ’t d to worry – ban would snap sideways, the power would you in the ass you would be through the a


Schwantz’s RGV: just as stunning with its kit off

REAR DISC Schwantz never uses the rear brake, but if he did there is a two-piston magnesium Tokico unit with a fully-floating disc.

TOGGLE SWITCH The RGV has a toggle that allows the rider to swap between three exhaust power-valve maps. There is also the option to retard the ignition timing.

WEIGHT The RGV500’s 130kg weight isn’t a made-up manufacturer’s figure. It tips the scales, post-race, at exactly the FIM-legal 130kg limit. SEPTEMBER 2015 | PERFORMANCEBIKES.CO.UK





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Words Chris Newbigging / Photography Stuart Collins

Two no-frills nakeds with old, grunty sportsbike engines. But can Suzuki’s K5-powered GSX-S match the benchmark Z1000? SEPTEMBER 2015 | PERFORMANCEBIKES.CO.UK




HE FUN OF NAKED BIKES is their simple, straightforward aggression. Look at some of the best ones: Bandit 1200, Speed Triple and RSV1000 Tuono. Big, grunty engines in a chassis that’s good enough to scratch on but accessible enough that you don’t feel underdressed in anything less than a one-piece suit. The Euro manufacturers have got a bit out of hand in recent years, taking the fairing off a ballistic superbike and... not much else. Ducati’s Streetfighter, Aprilia’s RSV4 Tuono and the BMW S1000R offer the sort of performance that would have dusted Foggy’s WSB Ducatis, but with flat bars. There’s clearly fun to be had there, but it’s a bit too serious. Johnny Mac, who’s along for the ride today, has a KTM 1290 Super Duke R long-term test bike this year – a prime example of an OTT Euro naked. We’ll see if he can see the case for keeping things simple. Kawasaki’s Z1000 is a long-standing example of a straightforward naked. It’s been a cult bike since its introduction in 2003, and the fourth incarnation is the best yet. The Manga styling retains cues from the original (four pipes, stubby seat, the headlight shape), but this one is more compact, more squat than before. Showa big-piston forks swing from the yokes, too. The Zed’s got serious, but it’s still less than 10 grand, a handy saving over the Euro-streetfighters. Suzuki rocked up late to the super naked party, but they’ve come with a K5 GSX-R1000 motor under their arm to make up for their tardiness. The GSX-S is the first exciting new Suzuki in years, with the first traction control they’ve fitted to anything with semi-sporty intent. The frame is lighter than the current GSX-R1000’s, too, so they’re clearly trying. We’ll see if they’ve tried hard enough. First impressions aren’t good. Suzuki’s test bike is a horrible satin grey. Stannah stairlifts come in more inspiring colours than this. The mirrors look like they’ve been lifted from a GS125, and the ignition surround and

GSX-S stoppers are a little underwhelming

‘The GSX-S may be cheap for its class, but it’s still a big chunk of cash to justify’ exhaust shroud look a bit poverty-spec, too. It may be cheap for its class (£9499 with ABS, £400 less than the Zed), but it’s still a big chunk of cash you need to justify. On the plus side, the kidney-shaped instrument panel is clear and easy to use, and the switchgear that controls it feels nice. Plus it’s a roomy old beast. The top-yoke’s integrated bar risers hold the Renthal Fatbars high, with a good sweep back. The seat has plenty of room for manoeuvre, and the pegs are well-positioned. I’ve already put 700 miles on my Zed long-termer, and the first few metres of familiarisation are enough to tell me the Suzuki doesn’t have the bottom-end of the Kawasaki. It does make it docile at walking pace, and it’d be great around town if the fuelling didn’t quickly become switchy. It’s not consistent either, so sometimes it’ll be OK, and other times you’ll get an unwanted

The Zed is happiest in the middle of its torque curve. Or any other curve, for that matter


Exhaust isn’t the sexiest thing we’ve ever seen


Clear instrumentation is always a bonus

surge when you pick the throttle up. When it’s playtime, you find yourself wanting more grunt out of corners. The three-stage traction control is redundant really – modes one and two are needlessly intrusive on a dry road, though the intervention is at least smooth. Mode three only flashes up on the dash when the top-end surge arrives and tries to wheelie out of second-gear bends. The drive below that isn’t strong enough to break traction in normal, competent riding.



Mode switch sits on the left-hand bar

Johnny’s not a fan of the throttle response

“THE SUZUKI IS a perfectly decent motorcycle in isolation. It stops, it goes, it looks good and is a lot of fun to ride. The power delivery is a bit featureless low down in the revs, which isn’t what I’d expect from a bike in this class. I also found the off/on throttle response to be a bit jerky and whilst the brakes had plenty of power, they lacked feel. However, the chassis is really well balanced and the suspension really nicely damped, which makes up for the minor niggles I had with this bike.”

Risers put Renthal bars in a comfy position





Big Johnny would soften the forks a touch

Does this remind anyone else of Zorro?

“THE Z1000 IS in another class to the GSX-S. It’s got a lot more shove low down, perfect fuel injection, a stiff chassis and trick suspension that works really positively, although if Chris’s Z1000 was my long termer, I’d want to soften the forks off a little. The quality of finish and attention to detail is also on another level to the Suzuki’s, but I found the riding position on the Zed a bit cramped for me, and the exhausts got in the way of my feet when I wanted to ride on my toes.”

Torquey motor begs to be fed gears




Much more initial bite and feel than the GSX-S’s

Design has divided opinion. But we’re big fans

‘The Zed’s engine is a descendant of the ’98 ZX-9R; it makes the GSX-S motor seem flat’

Readout sits outside of your peripheral vision

It’s a bit topsy-turvy – we’d trade some at the top for more in the middle. It comes in useful for long, fast wheelies, but for the vast majority who don’t consider fourth-gear mingers everyday behaviour, it could do with a power curve appropriate to the bike. Suspension quality is often an issue with naked bikes, but the GSX-S doesn’t suffer. The regular-piston forks are fully adjustable, and only compression adjustment is missing at the rear shock. Johnny rode the bike home and thought it ratcheted down a bit, but he’s

a 100kg bloke capable of giving it a pasting, so backing off some rebound to suit his mass and riding style would stop it packing down. I didn’t suffer the same issue – for my 85kg or so, it worked quite nicely. My main gripe with the handling is the lack of feel from the front. The fork caps are flush with the yoke, and the handlebars are high, so you’re a long way from the front tyre. It needs the forks pulling through the yokes a touch to give it a more elbows up, nose-down feel you want from an aggressive-looking naked. The ‘Brembo’ brakes are not only a bit underwhelming (Suzuki fit hard-wearing, soft-biting, GG-compound pads – easily fixed, but it should come better-specced to start with), but I also suspect that they’re not what they appear. They share no design or parts with any other Brembo caliper we’ve seen, but they look startlingly similar to the Nissins fitted

on our long-term Daytona 675, right down to the stupid inward-facing bleed nipple. We suspect it’s a branding exercise. As it comes from Suzuki, it’s a stable, easy going sort of naked. You could get off a CB500 on to the GSX-S and not launch yourself out of the first roundabout, or even the second. There’s plenty of potential to make it tasty without dropping too much coin. It’s main problem is that as standard, the Zed is much more on the money. Visually, the Kawasaki is striking and more pleasing. The Cardigan Grey Suzuki looks dingy next to the Candy Emerald Awesome Kawasaki, or whatever they call it. Whether you dig the out-there lines or not, it’s obvious that Kawasaki have spent more time making the whole thing hang together right. The details aren’t as cheap either – we especially like the machined aluminium eccentric chain adjusters, smart yokes and shaped key grip that follows the tank’s lines when you put it in the ignition. The engine is an old-fashioned beast, being a direct descendant of the 1998 ZX-9R C1. No stacked gearbox, no ludicrously over-square bore/stroke, no traction control. But that’s also partly why the Zed makes the K5derived GSX-S seem flat. Any throttle opening grabs your backside and urges you along the road with the torque. It’s a proper shoulder-stretcher, happiest in the middle of the torque curve. The gear ratios are short and close, with a low final drive ratio – hold it flat out and it’ll rocket up to an indicated 156mph (as I did at Bruntingthorpe outside this test) and headbutt the rev limiter. Away from a WW2 bomber base, it gives you instant access to more stab than a Glasgow bar fight. Gear choice is fairly academic, to the point where I find myself rolling to a stop in fifth and having to pull the lever repeatedly and hurriedly to pull away again. The Suzuki by comparison compels you to keep an eye on the gear indicator (which the Kawasaki doesn’t have) and change more often.

More power at the top end is at least good for fourth-gear wheelies




2015 SUZUKI GSX-S1000

Zed pounces on the Suzuki, which lacks bottom-end grunt out of corners

ENGINE |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Type Liquid-cooled, dohc inline-four Capacity 999cc, 16 valve Fuelling Fuel injection, 44mm dualbutterfly, cable-operated throttle bodies Bore x stroke 73.4mm x 59mm Claimed power 143.5bhp @ 10000rpm Claimed torque 78.2lb.ft @ 9500rpm

CHASSIS ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

Frame Twin-spar aluminium beam Front suspension KYB 43mm USD fork, preload, compression and rebound damping adjustment Rear suspension KYB monoshock, preload and rebound damping adjustment Front brakes 2 x 310mm discs, radialmount four-piston Brembo calipers Rear brakes 220mm disc, single-piston Nissin caliper

DIMENSIONS ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Wheelbase 1460mm Rake/trail 25°/100mm Wet weight 209kg Seat height 815mm Fuel capacity 17 litres

Wheelies are easy, and the torque holds it there for an age. The low, minimalist front means you can see where you’re going, too. It would be nice if the dash was in your peripheral view for normal riding – you have to adjust to making a concerted effort to look at it when slowing into villages and for speed cameras, but that’s the price you pay choosing a bike that’s as much about style as it is performance. The short gearing/poor wind protection does have a positive effect on your licence, as you’re rarely compelled to hit three figures. Neither give great wind protection – the Kawasaki affording basically nothing.

85mph is top whack in still conditions, and a headwind will soon give you neck strength like Geoff Capes’ wanking arm. The green one’s engine character makes it better suited to sub-ton speeds, though. The Suzuki feels very much like they’ve designed the fully-faired, sport-touring GSX-S1000F first, then ripped the fairing off for a quick and easy naked bike. The engine character is a mismatch with the appearance. You could mark the Zed down for lacking traction control, but at no point did we feel it needs it. The connection between throttle hand and rear tyre, plus the grip generated by the stiff chassis, is good enough that rear traction is never an issue. It’s an encouraging sign from Suzuki after years of inactivity and increasing obsolesence in the sportsbike world. The GSX-S is a good bike in isolation, and as a latecomer to the world of electronic assistance, they’ve done a good job of making the rider aids a compliment to the performance rather than a hindrance. But for all its small plus points, it’s still bested overall by the Kawasaki. The Z1000 has better brakes, a stronger motor and a chassis more in keeping with the attitude of the bike.


Short gearing and punchy motor are a wheelie-hoisting dream come true


The small price premium for the Kawasaki is worth it just for the performance benefit, and as something to take pride in the Zed is easily in front, too. It makes the Suzuki look like a Kinder egg toy in some areas. The GSX-S is a good effort, but the Kawasaki is better built, faster, better braked and fulfills the role of a naked bruiser much more effectively than the Suzuki. More midrange would close the gap signifcantly, but until Suzuki drops a set of oversize pistons in for more torque, the Zed is easily our favourite.


TECHNOLOGY ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Rider aids ABS (£500 option), three-stage traction control

BUYING |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Price £9499 (ABS model as tested) Contact

2015 KAWASAKI Z1000

ENGINE |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Type Liquid-cooled, dohc inline-four Capacity 1043cc, 16 valve Fuelling 4 x Keihin 38mm throttle bodies Bore x stroke 77mm x 56mm Claimed power 140bhp @ 10,000rpm Claimed torque 81lb.ft @ 7300rpm

CHASSIS |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Frame Twin-spar aluminium beam Front suspension Showa 41mm USD big-piston fork, preload, compression and rebound damping adjustment Rear suspension Back-link monoshock, preload and rebound damping adjustment Front brakes 2 x 310mm discs, radialmount four-piston Tokico calipers Rear brakes 250mm disc, sliding singlepiston caliper

DIMENSIONS ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Wheelbase 1435mm Rake/trail 24.5 °/101mm Wet weight 221kg Seat height 815mm Fuel capacity 17 litres

TECHNOLOGY ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Rider aids ABS (£400 option)

BUYING |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Price £9899 (ABS model as tested) Contact



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It’s already the best inline four litre bike... 70





...but that didn’t stop Road and Race ramping it up SEPTEMBER 2015 | PERFORMANCEBIKES.CO.UK


INCE ITS 2010 launch, PB has never featured a highly-modified, road-legal S1000RR. So is it simply so good as a standard package that it isn’t worth trying to improve it? “We see quite a few S1000RRs coming through the shop,” said Mark Hanna from Road and Racing Performance. “But most owners don’t go any further than a pipe and Power Commander. The RR is so powerful and fast as standard it’s more than enough for road use and very hard to make noticeably better. So owners tend not to bother. A few fit aftermarket steel braided brake lines, but that’s it in terms of performance. Instead it’s mainly cosmetic items such as rearsets and tail tidies.” However there is always an exception to the rule, and that’s why PB are down at Road and Racing Performance’s Verwood workshop. One of their customers has just finished spending more than £50,000 making the best even better. “A few years ago a customer turned up with a knackered Tuono on the back of a flat-bed,” Mark explains. “The bike was hanging and the owner, a chap called Martin, said it was the result of a drunken eBay moment and he was taking it to Spain for some trackdays. We got the bike on a bench, looked at it, then called him to say not to bother going. Sure enough, it broke after two trackdays. But Martin, who was new to bikes, had been bitten by the trackday bug. Two days after he returned from Spain, a 2012 BMW S1000RR arrived at our workshop with a note from Martin asking if we could stick a pipe on it. Then he asked if we could uprate the suspension to Öhlins. At which point it all started to get out of control.” The resulting special is the highest-spec BMW S1000RR outside of BSB. So, if you want to know what works, and what doesn’t, on BMW’s class-leading superbike, read on...

ENGINE “This engine has a set of kit cams that were supplied by Buildbase BMW and are the same as the ones in Ryuichi Kiyonari’s British Superbikes machine. They were around £800 but you need to add £500 to fit and dial them in and another £500 if it’s a roll-in/roll-out job. Personally I wouldn’t fit them to a road bike, but it’s easy power as you gain about 6-8bhp. At tickover the cams make the engine quite lumpy, but once it’s going they are lovely and not aggressive at all.” Price: £800 plus fitment Contact:

DASH “The Alpha Racing dash is an incredible bit of kit, but I actually advised Martin not to fit it as the BMW’s CAN-bus electrical system is so complicated and that has made it a complete nightmare to get working. It can link into a GPS datalogger and comes complete with a wiring loom and various sensors, but personally I’d stick with the stock BMW instrument and save yourself a load of aggravation.” Price: £POA Contact:

SUSPENSION “These are Öhlins FGR200 forks, WSB-spec units from the BMW World Endurance team. They have more feel than standard Öhlins Road and Track due to the fork tubes’ thickness. FGR tubes are incredibly thin, so a crash can mean a new set of tubes. But they are beautiful to use. These are 52mm, 2mm wider than the BMW’s forks, and why we fitted Harris yokes.” Price: £2200 (for Road and Track) Contact:

S1000RR’s complicated electrics made fitting this a mare

BRAKE DISCS “You can keep standard BMW inners then add Brembo Superbike discs if you want to retain the BMW sensor rings to allow you to use the OE electronics. The Brembo discs are 0.5mm thicker than BMW’s. They’re more efficient and certainly stronger in their performance.” Price: £316 (pair) Contact: Once the fairing is off, the differences reveal themselves

SLIPPER CLUTCH “The S1000RR has a slipper clutch as standard but upgrading to an STM unit makes a huge difference. Buildbase also use an STM unit; it is lighter than stock and really helps with corner entry. The BMW units tends to hop and judder when you bang down the gears. The basket is standard BMW but the pressure plate at the front and back are STM and the middle is on a ball bearing ramp rather than two metal ramps. It’s a very noticeable change, which isn’t the case with all bolt-ons.” Price: £911 Contact:

HOSES “I always find OE hoses fit perfectly and seldom split or fail. John McGuinness runs standard hoses on all of his TT bikes. But Martin wanted silicon hoses.”

Who is Mark Hanna? WHEN IT COMES to race prep, Mark has seen and done it all. As well as working for Crescent Suzuki’s BSB team, he has worked with the Honda Legends squad and ran John McGuinness’s EMC2 Superstock bike at this year’s TT. He is a familiar face at BSB and looks after a number of riders and their machines through his business Road and Racing Performance.

Carbon bodywork hides more than £50,000 of upgrades

LighTech rearsets are a sound investment

REARSETS “There are more to rearsets than improving ground clearance. If you are comfortable on a bike you will ride better, and you can tailor a rearset’s position to suit your size. Martin is 6ft 6in tall. We have fitted LighTech rearsets to the BMW, which have loads of adjustment and are very well built.” Price: £350 Contact:

CALIPERS “This bike has Moto2-spec Brembo calipers, which are overkill on a road bike (billet HPK Brembos would be just as good). Aftermarket Brembo calipers use titanium pistons and take the heat build-up far better than the OE units, reducing the chances of brake fade on track.” Price: £1169 a pair (£804 for M4 monoblock units) Contact:

CHAIN AND SPROCKETS “The 520-pitch chain is a weight saving device. Pulling a big, chunky, chain around big sprockets saps power. Renthal sprockets are lighter and we have dropped one tooth off the front to make the bike’s acceleration livelier. The traction control doesn’t need recalibrating with the different sprocket sizes.” Price: £120 Contact: New 520-pitch chain saves weight

REAR BRAKE “Removing the rear brake reservoir cleans up the look of the bike and riders love an HRC brake fluid tube.” Price: £8 Contact:



If money’s tight, don’t go carbon on the rear



“When it comes to track riding, I’m not a fan of ABS systems and we have removed it from this bike, saving around 6kg in weight. As we have also swapped the standard dash it isn’t throwing up any fault codes. I’d probably recommend road riders keep the ABS activated as it is a good system for the road, if not the track.”

SWINGARM “Harris fitted extended blocks to the stock BMW swingarm. We run it at the furthest point back. When you have a lot of power, the longer they are the nicer they are. They gain traction and accelerate rather than wheelie. Stability is also improved.” Price: £1500 Contact:

“The RR’s standard wheels are good, but they aren’t the lightest in the world and carbon wheels do make a noticeable difference – especially at the front. A lighter front wheel really helps the bike change direction quicker, however I wouldn’t be that bothered about fitting a carbon rear. You can run an aluminium rear and carbon front if you are on a budget and that won’t be an issue. They may not match visually, but you will have saved over £1000 and gained all of the handling benefits.” Price: £2287 (pair) Contact:

BARS “There is no real need to change the bars, but we fitted Renthal bars as the Öhlins forks are wider than the standard BMW units.” Price: £127.15 Contact:

EXHAUST “Although this bike has a full Akrapovic exhaust, you don’t need to go that far. Any good quality end can and link pipe to remove the cat delivers virtually the same power gain as a full system.”

FAIRING “The carbon is so much lighter than the standard BMW plastics, easily 3 or 4kg. It’s not to everyone’s tastes, but it is certainly a talking point.” Price: £1125 Contact:

Full system is overkill. But when you’re chucking this money on a bike, why not?



Hanna’s race paddock experience has produced a truly stunning bike

TYRES “The S1000RR comes with a 190/55 rear as standard but you can fit a 200/55 section to help speed up the handling a bit as it is a taller profile. It can mess up the traction control so you might need to recalibrate it.”

STEERING DAMPER “Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the electronically operated steering damper and so we removed it and fitted a conventional Öhlins item. Very few racers ride with electronic dampers as they can mask the feel from the bike’s front end.” Price: £295 Contact:

AIR FILTER “I use MWR air filters as I reckon they are the best you can buy. We have back-to-back tested a lot of filters and MWR always come out on top. The standard BMW unit is very good, but MWR put a lot of development into their filters and this shows up on the dyno. I reckon it is worth 1-2bhp on its own.” Price: £196.99 Contact:


Brembo 19 RCS master cylinder improves braking feel and power

“We use an HM Racing quickshifter as we had a few issues with the standard BMW unit. It might just have been a duff one, though.” Price: £459.58 Contact:

MASTER CYLINDER “The main area for improvement in the BMW’s braking is the master cylinder. I would recommend fitting a Brembo 19 RCS master cylinder as it gives a lovely feel when braking, as well as improved power compared to the stock set-up.” Price: £318 Contact: Öhlins TTX36 shock offer more adjustment

SHOCK “An Öhlins TTX36 is far more adjustable than the standard BMW shock. Each adjustment has an effect, that’s not always the case on OE shocks. It’s a quality unit, and you get what you pay for.” Price: £1116 Contact:



Revolution WK Bikes’ CF650i Supertwins racer was a contender for victory at this year’s Isle of Man TT. We rode one at Cadwell to see what made it so fast Words Alan Cathcart / Photography Andrew Moreton, Pacemaker

N THE LAST five years, Supertwin racing has been dominated by Kawasaki’s ER-6. The humble commuter has proved its worth as a highlymodified racebike, capable of almost 100bhp in stock form and with suspension upgrades capable of lapping the Isle of Man TT at over 120mph. Until PB road tester Michael Rutter got a Paton on the podium at this year’s TT, Kawasakis had taken every top position since the lightweight TT was re-introduced in 2012. But now there is another very serious challenger for top Supertwin honour – the CF Moto 650i. Piloted by Gary Johnson, the CF was a favourite for victory and started first on the road at this year’s race, until engine problems scuppered its chances. Still, it was a sign that Chinese bike industry is catching up – the speed that this bike shows proves its base model is sound. It’s time to stop writing off Chinese products. The chance to ride Gary Johnson’s Supertwin came in a shakedown test for this year’s TT race at the team’s usual test track close to its base at Cadwell Park. Run by importer WK Bikes, the bike came under the eagle eye of the man responsible for its development, Grimsby-based performance engineer Chris Gunster, himself a former British 125/250GP racer at National level. “We do a lot of

work with Gary Johnson setting up his Superstock and Supersport bikes for TT racing,” says Gunster. “So when he agreed to race the CFMoto for them last year, they brought it to us to develop it properly. Gary did that single 108mph standing-start lap with just 79bhp, so we knew it had potential if we could up the performance and keep the reliability.” Since then, with the extra power they found, Johnson has lapped the TT course at 117mph. A huge amount of development has gone into the bike. Taking the stock CFMoto 650NK dohc, eight-valve, parallel-twin engine measuring 83 x 60mm for a capacity of 649.30cc, Gunster retained the stock crankshaft under Lightweight TT rules, but after last year’s DNF has fitted British-made Arrow forged steel conrods and JE forged pistons machined to suit the cylinder head and valves. These deliver a 14:1 compression ratio, up from an already quite respectable 11.3:1 as the bike left China, further helped by skimming the cylinder block that comes with chrome bores as standard. The head was also skimmed to help achieve the high compression vital for drive out of turns, while retaining the stock gasket, and then ported and flowed by ace TT tuner Steve Mellor. One half of the V&M team, Mellor has been a top Supertwins tuner since the category was reinvented five years ago. SEPTEMBER 2015 | PERFORMANCEBIKES.CO.UK



The resultant tuned-up CFMoto 650i race engine is now fitted with billet camshafts made by Kent Cams to Mellor’s spec, with a very similar profile to the ones Gary Johnson uses in his Kawasaki ZX-10R Superbike. “These operate slightly shortened stock 33mm inlet and 28mm exhaust valves,” says Gunster. “And the reason for that is that the original 650NK motor has the shim as part of the bucket, which is a quirky thing I’ve not seen before on any motorcycle, meaning if you want to re-shim it you have to change the entire bucket. Because of the logistics and expense of carrying several different buckets to adjust the valves, we’ve shortened the valve stems so we can run a conventional shim under bucket system like everyone else. We’ve retained the stock valves, though, but with dual springs, running in standard valve guides.” The inlet valves are fed by twin Marelli throttle bodies, each carrying a single five-hole Marelli injector, and these originally started out as 38mm units before Gunster began boring them out. “We tested different bores from 38mm to 45mm, and settled on 42mm as the best balance between top end performance and rideability,” he says. “Even so, the bike is quite grumpy low down before it smoothes out at around 6000rpm, and a lot of that is with the size of the throttle bodies and the injectors, because everything is geared around making it go fast. I was amazed to find out the throttle is wide open on a Lightweight bike like this for two-thirds of a full lap of the TT course – now I understand why top riders like Gary who race them like them so much.

You can really dominate them and ride their wheels off.” Getting the airbox right is apparently a key issue in Supertwins tuning. Gary explains: “The biggest problem seems to be how much those things want to breathe – there’s a midrange gain of as much as 7bhp if you can significantly increase the airbox volume from standard. So we basically cut the top off a stock airbox to accommodate very long 50mm velocity stacks fed by an air scoop that lives above the radiator, to let it suck as much air as it wants. It’s a combination of airbox, throttle bodies, injectors, fuel pressure and exhaust that together with Steve Mellor’s tuning magic that have collectively got us where we are. Where is that? We have 102bhp at 10,300rpm at the rear wheel, and peak torque of 54.32lb.ft at 9400rpm, which seems to be on a par with the best Kawasakis.” It was the wet weather grip of the treaded Supersportspec tyres compulsory for Supertwins racing that most concerned me when I took to the track at Cadwell Park for my first of three sessions, with the surface still damp from overnight rain. I needn’t have worried – the rubber from Metzeler (soon to become Chinese-owned) shrugged off any damp patches, and the easy-steering controllability of the CFMoto brought reassurance in its wake, in allowing quick corrections when the rear end stepped out. The

Translogic dash keeps it simple. The most obvious number is the gear indicator

Stock motor is skimmed, ported and flowed. It’s 30bhp up on standard

Brembo monoblocks really shine

Arrow system helps to boost power

Connection between right hand and rear tyre is spot-on



Gary Johnson piloted the CFMoto at the Isle of Man TT

street-pattern quickshifter wasn’t working properly – and not at all for the top two gearshifts – but the stock ratios in the six-speed gearbox seemed well suited to the power characteristics of the motor. So although it is perfectly tractable through the slow Woodlands section at Cadwell, and drives OK from 3000rpm upwards on part throttle, it’s not till the tacho sweep hits the 5800rpm mark on the Translogic dash – whose ‘gear selected’ readout dominates your visual take on the screen – that the tuned Chinese racer really starts to motor. That’s when it comes alive with a serious burst of power that isn’t so fierce it’ll unhook the back wheel, but is controllable enough to really power the CFMoto out of slower turns. The legendary link between your right hand and the rear tyre’s contact patch is there in spades. There’s even a second noticeable kick in power at 8000rpm, all the way to the 10,300rpm limiter where power is still building. This means that it’s really worth riding the bike like a sort of gruffsounding two-stroke racer, allowing the row of seven shift lights above the dash to progressively light up till they flash red at 10,000rpm and you need to hit the next highest gear NOW! Even with street ratios, you’ll still be back in the fat part of the powerband and especially the torque curve in said gear, so it really pays to rev it right out in each gear to keep it on the boil. Yet the bike’s undoubted top-end power isn’t delivered at the expense of low-down rideability – it’s just that there’s noticeably more power high up, so you need to keep the motor revving. It’s

‘The bike’s top-end kick isn’t delivered at the expense of low-down rideability’ ultra-smooth in the way it does so – there’s really no significant vibration at all. This tuned up motor is fitted in a stock, unbraced, tubular steel diamond frame, which uses it as a fully stressed member. But is now fitted with adjustable 43mm Öhlins Road and Track forks housed in Harris adjustable triple-clamps designed for a GSX-R1000, which allow the offset to be varied between 25-33mm. With the stock cantilever steel swingarm and fully-adjustable Öhlins monoshock offset to the right, this results in a fairly tight 1415mm wheelbase. Dry weight, complete with a Harris Moto2 race fairing and Kawasaki ZX-10R seat fitted, is 161kg, stopped by twin 320mm Brembo floating front discs and four-piston monoblock radial calipers, with a 220mm rear disc. The team runs Metzeler Racetec tyres, with the rear upsized to a 180/55 17 on a 5.50in rim, instead of the stock 650NK’s 4.50in wheel carrying a 160/60 rear tyre. All for better grip on the angle as well as increased stability, says Chris. The chassis is very good – totally predictable in the way it goes, steers and stops. I was outgunned for performance by the 600s and 1000s I was sharing the track with – but through the tight Hall Bends or the bus-stop Chicane I could more than get my own back thanks to the SEPTEMBER 2015 | PERFORMANCEBIKES.CO.UK



There’s more than 100bhp from this revvy parallel twin

Expansion chamber screams ‘racer’

Öhlins single rear shock is offset

It holds is own against bigger bikes

Supertwin’s deft, agile handling, and especially on the brakes into Park Corner at the end of the back straight, or downhill into second-gear Mansfield. There, the combination of 320mm front Brembo discs and monoblock radial calipers, plus the Sigma slipper clutch, do their job really well in slowing the CFMoto racer predictably and effectively. But I didn’t care for the chatter I got, especially at Charlies, after I upped my pace and tried to take this critical corner one gear higher, in fourth. A couple of times I got my line wrong, and had to feather the front brake to lose a little Paintjob of the year in our books

speed – no problem with a bike so forgiving it’ll make an ideal beginner’s racer. The riding position Gary Johnson has opted for is aimed at maximising front-end grip, because that ZX-10R seat has a thick pad on it which pushes you up in the air, and throws a good deal of your body weight onto the front wheel via your wrists, arms and shoulders. But strangely it didn’t seem too tiring a stance in my hour of riding the bike – roughly a Lightweight TT race in length in terms of time, if not distance. And the tall screen does a good job of deflecting bugs, as well as making it easy to tuck well away behind it for those many miles of flat-out riding on a bike like this which was clocked at 160mph through the speed traps in practice for the TT. With its now properly prepared, and even better tuned, race engine fitted, the CFMoto 650i is not only a serious Supertwins contender. It’s a bike that merits more widespread availability. And considering the stock 650NK from which this bike is derived costs 40% less than the ER-6 Kawasaki, the Chinese bike provides an affordable basis for anyone to go racing, beginner or expert. WK, or even the CFMoto factory itself, should produce a customer race kit incorporating the performance tuning, or maybe even a turn-key racer devoid of street equipment but retaining the electric starter, just as KTM did with the RC8R Track. This is a very capable motorcycle within the context of its category, which deserves a wider audience – and it doesn’t matter where it was manufactured.





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Road-legal but built for the track, how do these exotic superbikes match up?


188.44bhp, 187.5kg, £28,995 Ducati’s homologation special, built to satisfy regulations for World Superbike racing. Expensive, exotic, fabulously electronic

MICHAEL RUTTER PB TESTER AND TT WINNER 42 years, 5ft 10in, digital precision As clinical as a surgeon, Rutter carves through Mallory Park like a hot knife through butter. Which is why his nickname is ‘Blade’. Fact




Words John McAvoy / Photography Simon Lee




189.89bhp, 201.5kg, £18,499 The pinnacle of Yamaha’s superbike development, featuring electronic assists, DIY datalogger and active Öhlins suspension


Age 42, 6ft 4in, analogue anger As hamfisted as a masturbating pig*, Johnny’s grip on the throttle tests every facet of a modern superbike’s electrickery

* Not strictly true. Johnny has a very sensitive right wrist




ITH A COMBINED value of just under £50,000, the Ducati Panigale R and Yamaha YZF R1M are the poster bikes of a generation and objects of desire if for no reason then for their exclusivity. In the case of the Ducati, it is a case of less is more, and at just 187.5kg fully fuelled it is the lightest road-legal bike we have ever tested at Mallory. A full titanium exhaust system, Lithium ion battery and carbon bodywork account for some of the weight loss, but the real magic (and cost) is inside the 1198cc Superquadro engine. Superquadro refers to the fact that the engine is ‘oversquare’, where the width of the cylinder bore is greater than that of its stroke. The benefits of this are primarily to have more space for bigger valves in the cylinder head and the smaller distance the piston has to travel during one rotation of the crank means lower piston speeds, which in turn lets you run more revs. The downside is that the packaging of the engine can be tricky, and peak torque will normally be higher in the rev range, neither of which are a problem for the 1199R because it is built as a World Superbike

homologation bike. As such, its capacity is reduced from 1299cc to the regulation 1198cc, but the crankshaft is balanced and lightened and the motor gets super aggressive, bespoke camshafts. Elsewhere there are top-shelf Ohlins NiX30 forks, a TTX36 rear shock and the full suite of Ducati’s brilliant electronics. The result is genuinely special and exotic. In the case of the Yamaha, more is more seems to be the approach taken to their pumped-up special R1. The R1M is born from good stock and carries over the latest R1’s mechanical architecture. It has the same engine, gearbox, frame, wheels and brakes as the base R1, so power and torque are the same, and it has an identical weight to the £3500-cheaper R1. Unlike the Ducati, the Yamaha’s upgrades are enhancements to further refine the neatly packaged and devastatingly quick 2015 R1 rather than the all-out race tune, homologation approach taken by the Italians. Cheeky glimpses of carbon poke through the gaps in the rich silver paintwork, a polished and lacquered bare alloy fuel tank and swingarm replace the stock bike’s painted items. Nestled in the tail of the seat unit, a GPS receiver points to the sky, delivering the bike’s precise location to the R1M’s

‘The suspension is perfectly matched to the lightweight chassis and works brilliantly’ The R1M’s gearbox feels like a pukka racebike’s

“I thought you said you hadn’t been to the clinic”

“Who, me? Nah, it’s well under the noise limit”




1 Sumptuous finish on tank screams ‘racer’

‘It’s not a road bike dressed up like a race bike, it is a race bike. The fact it turns, accelerates and stops like nothing else is all down to its light weight.’

2 Panigale R’s Öhlins TTX36 rear shock is offset 3 LCD dash 1

tells you pretty much everything apart from the lottery results 4 Twin 330mm discs and four-pot Brembos have

the edge over the Yamaha’s

routing is a work of art

5 Forks are same as R1M’s, only manually adjusted

7 It passes a Mallory noise test. Probably

6 Ducati’s wacky exhaust

8 This is a badge of honour




Communication Control Unit, which gathers information from 21 separate sensors around the bike. The result is a highly sophisticated multi-channel datalogger (see page 89). The real star of the show is the integration of active Öhlins suspension. Plumbed into the R1M’s six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit, the forks and rear shock constantly adjust themselves according to what mode has been selected and the bike’s attitude. There isn’t a production bike on the planet that knows as much about itself as the Yamaha R1. And though it’s spectacularly complex, the R1M’s trump card is that this latest model is still a proper ‘man and machine’ experience, feeling almost as analogue as the 1998 original. Two bikes, two different approaches to performance

excellence, and one BSB rider. Michael Rutter has arrived early so he can get a good look at the bikes before the pitlane opens, such is his level of intrigue. There is a strong wind blowing down the start/finish straight, which is a blessing and a curse. It is drying the track out after an earlier downpour, but there are also strong gusts across the high-speed Gerard’s corner and it’s not exactly warm. Waiting in the queue for noise testing, the air temp gauge on the Ducati is offering 14°C, but in the wind it feels cooler. No matter, the biggest banana skin of the day is avoided as the Ducati passes the noise test by registering 104.5dB. A smile from the dude with the noise meter suggests he either likes Ducatis or is in a generous mood today. In contrast, the R1M whispers through at 94dB. The







IN DETAIL YAMAHA YZF-R1M 1 Four-piston stoppers are powerful, but ABS can’t be disabled 2 Lighting is subtle, allowing racebike-like front end 1

3 Looks a bit pedestrian. Sounds like World War 3

TTX36 rear shock is utterly sublime in its operation

4 Motor is identical to the standard R1

6 The same’s true of the front suspension, with active Öhlins NiX30

5 Active Öhlins






forks taking care of damping 7 This badge makes you look special 8 Datalogger sits in the tail

Ducati wins the ‘look at me’ test hands down, but it’s the quiet ones you need to watch out for. Thirty minutes later, we are back in the pits and Rutter is blubbing about the R1M. “This is a huge improvement over the standard R1,” he says. I tell him it costs £3500 more than the standard R1 and to my surprise he says it’s worth every penny. “The active suspension is just incredible,” he offers. “When I start powering on round Gerard’s I can actually feel it adjusting. I hit the power quite hard to get the bike to stand up at the rear and turn faster, and on a bike with normal suspension it can take a moment for the shock to settle into its extended position. On the R1M, I can actually feel the shock extending under power and then settling instantly. I’ve never felt anything like it before. The transition from loaded-up at corner entry to extended at the rear, and turning mid-corner, is absolute perfection. “By the way, the circuit is a second slower than when we were here with the other R1 and BMW. The cement dust at the hairpin is on the line I want, the wind is a killer in Gerard’s, and all the rubber from the car session this morning has been washed away by the rain. Basically, the track is slow.” But Rutter isn’t done in his assessment of the R1M. “It’s a joy to ride and feels uncrashable. Literally you’d have to be really stupid to crash one of these, like really fucking stupid. Have you crashed one yet, Johnny?” I ignore his last remark and carry on writing. “It’s still unstable and fishtails into the slower corners like a standard R1, but it’s not quite as bad. Sometimes it feels like the Slam it on its side and rip off the loud handle





clutch, or maybe it’s the engine braking, or the ABS, but it’s only when you brake heavily and go down into first gear. “I think it’s the only thing I don’t like about the bike. I’d love to be able to switch the ABS off so I could either rule it out or pinpoint it. It’s got quite a long throttle action that takes a bit of getting used to, and I really like the gearbox and gear ratios. It’s a proper race gearbox – a tall first gear and close ratios after that. The power delivery feels lazy and long, but the effect is totally different. It’s so fast and sounds awesome. I love it.” With that, he hops on the Ducati and booms out of pitlane. I take to the track on the R1M. It takes me a while to get my helmet and gloves on, and by the time I exit the pits and get round Gerard’s, Rutter is already at full pace and hammers past me on the run down to Edwina’s. The noise of the Panigale on full throttle is insane. I’ve had a front row seat many times of Rutter manoeuvring through Edwina’s and it’s always a sight to behold. Uncomplicated, smooth and

Rutter’s Kays catalogue pose


really, really fast, he steers bikes through the chicane in one continual movement of direction changes and power application that seems as though he’s on a gentle ride to the shops with only the extreme angles of lean giving away his pace. Today, his body language is much more pronounced and as he hits the first left-hand apex, the Panigale looks like it is being

ridden on the sidewalls of its tyres; it seems impossible at this crazy angle of lean and with the speed he is carrying into the chicane that he will ever get it all the way back over to the right. I hold my breath, half expecting him to run wide at the exit. Instead, he doesn’t so much flick the Ducati onto its right ear, as violently shove it on its righthand side so fast I actually don’t

The Panigale R’s engine spins up super-rapidly

RUTTER ON... YAMAHA YZF-R1M ‘The level of sophistication with the electronics and suspension is off the scale. I honestly can’t see any other bike ever having a better electronics package.’

‘It fishtails into slower corners but it’s a joy to ride; you’d have to be really stupid to crash one of these’

quite see how he does it. This is his first flying lap and I wonder if he is aware that the tyres were cold when he left the pits. “Straight away you notice how light it is. It changes direction like a race bike, it’s on a whole different level to the R1M,” is the first thing Rutter has to say about the 1199R. “It feels like there’s nothing underneath you, and the danger of a bike with so little weight is the suspension set-up becomes more critical. The lighter the bike, the harder it is to set up, and it’s very easy to over-spring a lightweight bike. However, Ducati have obviously done a lot of work in this area, as well as the weight saving. The suspension is perfectly matched to the lightweight chassis and works brilliantly.” Rutter is full of enthusiasm for the Panigale. He’s clearly enjoyed himself. “It feels so fast, the way the engine spins up and revs so hard. It’s like there no resistance inside the engine when you open the throttle. It just goes baaap, baaap, baaap as quick as that through the gears,” he rants. “The riding position is signature

Panigale. Up high in the seat, and flat, high bars that make you feel like you’re the boss. The whole experience is like a race bike, the noise, the ferocity of acceleration, the speed with which the engine spins up, the perfectly matched suspension.” Rutter is surprised to learn that the Ducati’s best lap time is near-identical to the Yamaha’s – just 0.06sec splits them. But it does reveal much about the way the two bikes go about their business. The Yamaha is almost stealth-like, whispering through the noise test, surgically precise on track, in perfect harmony with its rider, peeling off low 54-second lap times one after the other. In the case of the Ducati, it’s all fire and brimstone, frantic gear changes, power wheelies and generally all happening much faster. There is just one 30-minute session left, and with the tyres past their best, improvements in laptimes are impossible. But that doesn’t stop us both going out to use every last drop of fuel for the sheer thrill of riding these two magnificent bikes.

The same but different

Rarely are two such differing bikes so closely matched on our test track

F THERE WAS ever a shining example of why Mallory Park is such a good circuit to test motorcycles on, this is it. Due to the range and variety of corners, traction and braking zones and elevation that Mallory has on offer, we are able to get a good look at how the R1M and Panigale R go about the business of setting identical lap times, where the different design philosophies of each bike shine and where they are held back. The weather conditions were far from ideal for super-fast

laptimes with really strong crosswinds through Gerard’s and a stiff headwind on the run down to Edwina’s being the main reason Rutter suggests there’s one second of laptime left on the table. An earlier downpour had washed the circuit clean of all the precious, grippy rubber laid down by the car test session in the morning. Nonetheless, both bikes (just) went faster than their standard siblings but more importantly, despite the conditions, we can see graphically the strengths and weaknesses of each bike.


Stebbe Straight

Lake Esses Eels

Devil’s Elbow Shaw’s Hairpin

Lake Victoria Bus Stop Kirby Straight

Gerard’s Bend






Speed (mph)


Distance (metres)










BRAKING 100-50mph


DUCATI: 137.94mph YAMAHA: 136.09mph The Panigale R is the first bike we have ever tested at Mallory Park to recording a peak speed of more than 150mph (150.62mph). The R1M peaks at a very respectable 148.48mph, but the 1199R rams home its advantage by also braking 7 metres later, which at 150mph is 0.07sec later. It’s taken just 1.6 seconds to travel from the start/finish line to the braking point for Gerards.

YAMAHA: 96.42mph DUCATI: 96.12mph Both bikes register a virtually identical speed at the 625m point. The Yamaha has gained back the time lost by scrubbing off less speed and building it back up earlier. At 635 metres, the Yamaha has its nose in front of the Ducati by 0.2s. In the crosswinds in Gerards, the R1M’s superior stability and extra weight is giving Rutter confidence to really commit to the 12 seconds of knife edge grip.

DUCATI: 128.73mph YAMAHA: 125.92mph It’s a repeat of the start/ finish straight, story as the Ducati bludgeons its way down the Stebbe Straight faster that anything we’ve ever recorded – a whopping 129mph (to the R1M’s impressive 125mph). The Panigale then goes on to brake 10 metres later and caries more speed into the chicane than the Yamaha, reclaimed its 0.2 sec deficit as both bikes are once again back to parity

DUCATI: 2.41s/79.8m YAMAHA: 2.66s/84.4m 0.25s and just under 5 metres difference in braking from 100-50mph might not sound a lot, but at the pace Rutter is riding it is. The Yamaha is suffering under heavy braking. Every time Rutter pulls the brake lever on the Yamaha, it is losing time to the Ducati. The fact Rutter is braking earlier on the R1M despite its lower peak speeds indicates he is much more confident with the Ducati’s brake set-up.

DUCATI: 42.78mph YAMAHA: 42.58mph The current fastest lap holder, the BMW S1000RR, registered 40.34mph here, and both these bikes topped that. Edwina’s is a key area where Rutter takes advantage of the Ducati’s light weight and just flicks it in. On the R1M, he felt so secure in the mechanical grip and stability, and reactive Öhlins suspension, that he was happy to carry massive entry speed and lean on the electronics.





ON THE DYNO ALMOST EVERYTHING YOU need to know about the difference between the Panigale R and R1M feel on track can be seen on the power curve comparisons. Just like their laptimes at Mallory Park, both bikes’ peak power figures are separated by the smallest margin, but the way in which they both get there is very different. It’s a definite case of brains vs brawn. The Ducati spits its 188bhp out in a frenzy of noise, wheelies and acceleration 2000rpm sooner than the Yamaha. Where the Yamaha is building its power progressively in the 10,000rpm region, the Ducati is already 25bhp further up the road. However, the R1M has a much broader – and therefore useable – spread of power that really comes into its own on sections of the lap where being able to hang onto a gear longer is an advantage (for example, through the Devil’s Elbow).

Curiously, both motorcycles demonstrate a significant ramp in their power curves at the same 8000rpm mark, meaning that when on track the Yamaha’s useable range is 5000rpm compared to the Ducati’s 3000rpm. The one thing that the two curves don’t show is how effective the Yamaha’s crazy firing order feels around Mallory. It’s a strange sensation that takes a little while to dial into as a rider. Long, spread out pulses of ‘lazy’ power that seems almost harmless, but married to the same fast, high-revving signature of an inline four. It’s an utter delight. Equally, what the Ducati’s dyno curve doesn’t show you is how quickly the motor, with all its exotic internal materials, spins up when the throttle is opened. The lightened and balanced crankshaft brings a whole new level of urgency and haste to the motor’s reaction to throttle input.

Power/torque (bhp/lb.ft)

200 180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 2k

Engine speed (rpm) 4k







MotoGP logging on your tablet YAMAHA R1M BEST LAP 54.19s



2015 DUCATI 1199 R 188.44bhp @ 11,000rpm / 94.07lb.ft @ 9000rpm 2015 YAMAHA R1M 189.89bhp @ 13,250rpm / 83.42lb.ft @ 8250rpm








DUCATI: 123.3mph YAMAHA: 122.31mph The Yamaha’s power delivery pays dividends out of Edwina’s and through the left-hand kink at the bottom of the hill. The R1M drives hard up the hill and Rutter makes full use of the Yamaha’s electronics. At the point he hits the brakes, the R1M holds a 0.25s advantage over the Panigale R. A quick look at the BMW S1000RR’s data trace shows at this point the R1M is 0.2s in front of that, too.

DUCATI: 20.55mph YAMAHA: 17.93mph There’s cement dust down at the hairpin, but it doesn’t stop the Panigale R nailing it. Slow direction changes and short bursts of power are right up the Ducati’s street. In just one single braking phase, the Ducati has claimed back the 0.25s gap the Yamaha had eked out, so it’s a dash to the line via the Bus Stop (which will suit the Ducati) and Devil’s Elbow (which might suit the Yamaha better).

DUCATI: 89.74mph YAMAHA: 88.69mph On the squirt between the Hairpin and Bus Stop chicane, the Ducati opens up the biggest gap between the two on the whole lap at 0.37sec. But the R1M’s longer ratios mean Rutter has a much smoother, and therefore faster, ride down the Devil’s Elbow. By the start/finish, the Yamaha has regained its time lost in the slow punchy section and both bikes are separated by just 0.06s.

ONCE YOU H installed the Y Y-Trac mobile on your Andro device and pa it to your R1M there is a wor of data at you fingertips. Switch on the logging function on the dash and head out. On your return to the pits, fire up the app, tap the ‘upload’ icon and the bike sends its data to your device. Everything from laptimes to the amount of fuel you are using. A close look at Rutter’s fastest lap reveals some fascinating data. The first thing that stands out is that he never triggers the traction control. But he does get a little help from the Slide Control, which uses the lateral acceleration and gyro measurements to detect if the bike is moving sideways. The first time it’s triggered is at the exit of Gerard’s, where the front wheel is at 105mph, the rear at 116mph. On the brakes into Edwina’s and the Hairpin, it’s the opposite. The front wheel is travelling on average 8-10mph faster than the rear, with the rear ABS triggering despite him not registering any pressure on the rear brake lever. Eventually the front ABS triggers, too, as the speed drops and he begins to turn the bike into the corner suggesting that the algorithms for the ABS system are also taking measurements from the gyro and factoring bike lean into their response. It would be a missed opportunity not to compare his inputs to mine and see where I’m losing my 3s per lap. The short answer is throttle application. Rutter hits the throttle stop for sustained bursts five times where I only manage it briefly on a couple of occasions. Also, Rutter’s greedy throttle hand also hits him where it hurts – his wallet. He uses 426.56cc of fuel per lap (47p/lap), whereas I only use 374.56cc (42p/lap).



‘I feel like a part of it’

Michael rates the Ducati’s chassis, useable power and braking performance


T’S A CLICHÉ I know, but it really is difficult to pick a favourite on this test. Both bikes are so good at what they do and in the totally different ways that they do it. It’s only a shame that it was so windy, as I’m sure that they both would have gone even faster. “The electronics on the Yamaha are from another planet. They are by far the most sophisticated and adaptive I’ve come across. The suspension is not just mechanically gorgeous, but also electronically integrated to the whole bike to utter perfection. It’s a piece of cake to ride and so, so fast. “But I’m not keen on the

brakes and it surprises me that with so much adjustment on the bike, you can’t switch the ABS and combined brakes off or at least adjust them to intervene less. They are definitely costing the bike time around the lap. “Which is one of the main reasons why the Ducati is my favourite. It feels more like a race bike (probably because it actually is). The engine is especially trick, the power is useable and

‘I love the fact I need to bring my A-game to the get the best out of the Panigale’ 90


the chassis is sublime. I feel more a part of the Ducati and that it has more to come. “The R1M is fundamentally limited on track by its brakes. No matter how much you adjust its engine and electronic settings, it’s always going to be held back by the fact that you can’t adjust the braking set-up. “The Ducati appeals more to my racer instincts, and I also like the fact that it feels as fast as it is and that I need to bring my A-game to get the best out of it.”

SECOND OPINION IT’S HARD TO disagree with Rutter, but I’m going to. The R1M is a huge step up from the base model it is derived from. Fully-active suspension is a stroke of genius while the electronics and datalogger are the most sophisticated and best integrated on any bike I’ve ridden. The Ducati is special, but its problem is its sibling, the 1299 S. It’s cheaper, not exactly heavy or short of power and just as much of a riot to ride, while the R1M makes the stock R1 feel a bit ordinary. John McAvoy





2015 BMW S1000RR Sport




2015 Ducati 1199 Panigale R




2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale S




2015 Yamaha YZF R1M



2015 Yamaha YZF-R1








Optional light wheels



Conditions held it back



Huge grunt everywhere




Conditions held it back




King of corner speed

2014 BMW HP4






Very nearly perfect

2014 Ducati 1199 Panigale S






Terrifyingly brilliant

2014 MV Agusta F4 RR






Lairy but hard work

2014 Fireblade SP






Best suspension here

2015 Triumph Daytona 675






Sharp, Blade SP-worrier

2014 Aprilia RSV4 R ABS






Held back by ABS

2014 Triumph Daytona 675R






Big lean, amazing noise

2014 Kawasaki ZX-10R






Let down by stock shock

2014 EBR 1190RX






Seriously decent bike

2015 Honda Fireblade






Basic, but still on it

2014 Kawasaki ZX-6R






Cement dust on track

2014 Suzuki GSX-R750






Same weight as a 675R

2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R






Faster than an RC8R

2014 KTM RC8R






The most torque

2014 MV Agusta F3 800






All rider aids switched off

2014 Ducati 899 Panigale






Not fastest, but fun

2014 Honda CBR600RR






Same weight as a 899

2014 Suzuki GSX-R1000






Limited by tyre grip

2014 BMW S1000R Sport






Ground clearance problems

2014 Suzuki RGV500




175bhp (est)


Once-in-a-lifetime awe

2014 KTM Super Duke






Better as a road bike

2015 Ducati 848 Streetfighter






Damp track, 5 laps only

2015 MV Brutale 800RR






Damp track, 5 laps only



ENGINE |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

DIMENSIONS ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

ENGINE ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Type Liquid cooled inline four, 16-valve Capacity 998cc Fuelling Fuel injection Bore x stroke 79mm x 50mm Power 189.89bhp @ 13,250rpm Torque 83.42lb.ft @ 8250rpm

Wheelbase 1405mm Rake/trail 24°/102mm Wet weight 201.5kg (measured) Weight bias 52% front, 48% rear Seat height 860mm Fuel capacity 17 litres

CHASSIS |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

TECHNOLOGY ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

CHASSIS |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

TECHNOLOGY ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

Type Liquid-cooled L-twin, 8-valve Capacity 1198cc Fuelling Fuel injection Bore x stroke 112mm x 60.8mm Power 188.44bhp @ 11,000rpm Torque 94.07lb.ft @ 9000rpm

Frame Aluminium monocoque Front suspension Fully-adjustable 43mm upside-down Öhlins NiX30 forks Rear suspension Fully-adjustable Ohlins TTX36 single shock Front brakes 2 x 330mm discs with four-piston Brembo M50 calipers Rear brakes 245mm disc with

Wheelbase 1442mm Rake/trail 24°/96mm Wet weight 187.5kg (measured) Weight bias 53% front, 47% rear Seat height 830mm Fuel capacity 17 litres

Rider aids Datalogger with GPS, traction control, quickshifter, autoblipper, power modes, wheelie control, cornering ABS

BUYING ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Price £28,995 C t t d



Frame Aluminium twin spar Front suspension Fully-adjustable 43mm upside-down active Ohlins NiX30 forks Rear suspension Fully-adjustable, active Ohlins TTX36 single shock Front brakes 2 x 320mm discs with f i t li

DIMENSIONS ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

Rider aids Datalogger with GPS, traction control, slide control, quickshifter, power modes, wheelie control, cornering ABS, linked brakes

BUYING ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Price £18,499


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TYGA PERFORMANCE BODY WORK AND ACCESSORIES BEET RACING PERFORMANCE EXHAUSTS AND ACCESSORIES SILHOUETTE BODY WORK TYGA Carbon Products O Yamaha R1 from £45.00 O Yamaha R6 from £354.00 O Yamaha V-Max from £79.99 OHonda CBR600RR From £45.00 O Honda CBR1000RR from £79.00 O GSXR 600 / 700 from £45.00 O GSXR 1000 K5 onwards from £45.00

Two Stroke Exhausts Aprilia RS125 from £175.00 with can Aprilia RS250 from £330.00 with cans Suzuki RGV250 VJ22 & VJ21 from £330.00 with cans Honda NSR250 MC21/28 from £340.00 with cans Honda NSR125/150 from £169.00 with can two stroke end cans from £45.00 - £110.00 others models available please contact us for more info

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M O D I F Y I N G | M A I N TA I N I N G | B U I L D I N G | B U Y I N G

New parts are developed on actual bikes Light-sensitive welding helmets allow superior accuracy


When you’re shipping round the world, you need a lot of foam

Inside Tyga Performance



96 360° GARAGE

We travelled to the other side of the world to visit Thailand’s Tyga Performance


2000 R1 has its carbs fettled, Caz rides length of the UK on a shit FZR400, plus Rupe’s 2001 900SS and Johnny’s RGV250


Metzeler Racetec RR K3 rubber, Alpinestars race gloves, plus handy workshop goodies


104 FZR400 rides length of UK

Panigale S, Super Duke R, Daytona 675, S1000RR, GSX-R750, Z1000


It’s almost 10 years old, but Ducati’s Monster S4RS still lights a fire under our arses

114 Panigale on track



Matt’s R1 gets carb loving

Super Duke R chassis sorted




‘We move with the times but we’ll never give up on the strokers’


F YOU ARE into two-stroke race replicas, the name Tyga Performance will be familiar. Based in the Sattahip district of Chonburi in Thailand, Tyga was set up in 1998 by British friends Paul Pearmain and Matt Patterson. From humble beginnings, Tyga has gone on to become the go-to place for two-stroke race rep parts. “I first went to Thailand in 1993 to race bikes,” explains Matt. “I raced in Asia from 1993-1997, at which point I went to Japan to work as a mechanic for HARC-PRO, who are one of the top Japanese race teams. I learnt a lot about HRC and then returned to Thailand, which is when I started working with Paul.” “I backpacked to Thailand in 1989,” said Paul. “I loved the place and returned a year later to teach English here. I’ve always been into bikes and quite quickly got into the Thai bike scene, which was really small. Everyone knew everyone else as so few people

PB pops to Thailand to visit small-bike tuning maestros Tyga Words Jon Urry / Photography Paul Bryant

PILLAR DRILL “This is mainly used for drilling rivet holes in silencers. They are held on jigs but you still need to be precise. It’s a lowtech solution for a hightech part. We also use it for polishing silencer parts using a polishing mop attachment.”

ARGON TANKS “It’s a damn sight easier to get welding gasses in Thailand than the UK. There is considerably less red tape and no special licences required. We mainly do TIG welding, it’s a far more professional weld than MIG and looks much better.”

CUT-OFF SAW “This has a large cutting disc. We use it to cut steel and swap the disc to a grinding one to smooth off exhaust sections before they are welded together. They have to be perfectly flat or the weld won’t seal.”



WELDING HELMETS “We use light-sensitive helmets; they are are a fantastic invention and allow you to be far more precise with your welding. You used to have to lift the helmet, aim, and then drop it, but nowadays you can see through the lid until the arc causes them to go dark.”

FOAM SHEET “It’s cheaper to spend money on protection than have to sort out returns and refunds. We use foam sheet around exhausts and fairings then surround them with polystyrene foam. You wouldn’t believe how smashed up boxes get as they travel round the world.”

HONDA MSX125 SILENCER PARTS “We were involved with the development of the MSX monkey bike, which was a major step for us as it meant we could develop a products before it had even hit the market.”


had big bikes. This led to me starting a business exporting bikes and parts from Thailand to America as the internet kicked off. I would get accident damaged bikes in from Japan, fix them up, then export them. People started asking for parts, so using Matt’s knowledge and contacts we sourced lots of HRC two-stroke bits and started building parts ourselves. “Internet sales were in their fledgling years and the connection in Thailand was tricky, which was an obstacle in 1998. But we had what people wanted: very cheap bikes. The economic crisis saw the Thai currency hit the floor and bikes were incredibly cheap – I got an RC30 for £1000! And as the internet expanded, Tyga Performance also grew in size.” Using Thailand’s proximity to Japan and the country’s cheap cost of labour compared to Europe, Tyga soon carved out their own niche in the market. But unlike some cheap Chinese copyists, the Brits in

DRAWS OF NUTS AND BOLTS “Nothing very special, but when you are building prototype parts you need a big draw of various size nuts and bolts on hand. We have another section of brand new nuts and bolts for the actual finished products.”

VICE “We have three or four vices dotted around the workshop as they are in constant use, mainly for holding the anvils secure when we are fabricating exhaust cones.”

Tyga’s world-famous products are all made in this humble Thai industrial unit

FILING CABINETS “These contain all our written notes on the various parts we build. It’s all saved on computers as well, but computers can break, where paper is a far more secure form of storage.”

HYDRAULIC PRESS “We press parts for the exhausts and silencers, such as the end caps, by hand. We build the press tools ourselves and then hand-press them. It keeps the boys fit hand-pressing 1000 end caps.”

charge of Tyga made quality their top priority. “We are lucky in Thailand as it has a very strong car and bike building infrastructure,” explains Matt. “There are some very skilled workers in Thailand. Also, the Thai mentality is very hands-on, they will fix and modify their own machines and that means they are good mechanics. Nowadays Ducati, Triumph, Öhlins, Honda, you name it, they are based here.” Tyga use this local knowledge base to build things like two-stroke exhausts, fairings and yokes as well as an array of four-stroke components. Their website lists over 2000 items for sale and the business turns over £1,000,000 a year, exporting worldwide. “We’re now building more parts for the new fourstrokes like the RC390 and YZF-R3, but our hearts are still with two-strokes,” says Paul. “We move with the times, but we will never give up on the strokers.” See more at

HORIZONTAL BAND SAW “We have a huge stock of aluminium, steel and stainless steel for CNC machining as well as tubing for exhausts, and it all needs to be cut to size.”

WANT TO BE THE N EX 360º G ARAGTE ? If you h ave

a work garage shop, or be on th shed that sho uld ese pa ges, e us at e ditorial@ mail pbmag



WELDING APPARATUS “We TIG-weld all of our exhaust systems by hand and have found that there is absolutely no shortage of highly skilled Thai welders thanks to the country’s large, preexisting car building infrastructure. We do use a MIG welder, but mainly for constructing thing like exhaust jigs (pictured right) out of steel.”

CARDBOARD BOXES “We send out around 20 boxes a day, sometimes many more, and I reckon we blow over £1000 a week on packaging.”

ROTARY TABLE “This is a flat table that turns very slowly. When we are welding the cones together this means the welder doesn’t have to move because the table will. It has a little foot control that varies the speed of rotation. It’s basically a very slow-speed potter’s wheel for welders, and it saves so much time.”

YAMAHA YZ250 “We always build our new pipes using a bike, never just replicating an existing exhaust. We once developed an exhaust for an Australian company who had built a two-stroke 500, without actually seeing the bike. When we finally saw it a few months later we spotted a few ways we could have improved the exhaust that we would have seen instantly if we actually had the bike when we built the system.”

Peter’s 5 favourite tools...



3 STEP DRILL BITS “Step drills are basically several different sizes on one drill bit and save so much time. They are great for sheet metal when you either want to drill one big hole or aren’t completely sure what size hole you want to drill. Instead of swapping bits you can just keep banging the same tool through until you reach the size you need.”


1 FLEXIBLE RATCHET “This flexible ratchet and wobble extensions are brilliant when it comes to getting into really confined spaces. The ratchet folds up on itself and the extensions wobble to different angles. Trying to get the exhaust off an RC30 or an NC30 without them is a nightmare unless you have a socket that can go around corners.”

2 AIR-POWERED ROTARY TOOL “I’ve had this for years – it’s a proper Trigger’s broom as it has had loads of different heads and one new body! It’s essential for modifying cylinders and engines and I used it to create our 300cc NSR big-bore kit. This tool has been with Tyga from the very start and I’d be absolutely lost without it.”

4 ROUND THING HOLDER “I built this myself as I was so pissed off trying to hold round things in a vice. It’s simply a bit of aluminium with a series of holes drilled in it that I cut in half. Nothing flash but bloody brilliant at doing what it is designed to do. You simply can’t hold round things tightly in a vice without it.”

5 EXTENDABLE MAGNET “This spends most of its time being used to recover nuts that Paul has dropped into an engine! It’s a lot faster and easier to stick this extendable magnet into a motor than to strip it to locate the errant nut. It’s a great tool and so cheap you can’t justify not having one in your workshop.”




THE GARAGE / 360º GARAGE WELDING JIG “We have a variety of jigs that hold exhausts secure before final assembly. We have different jigs for every expansion chamber and once we have built the prototype exhaust on a bike, we use that prototype to build the assembly jig. Once complete, we test-build an exhaust on it then fit it to a bike to make sure it is correct. Once we have the final jig we never need to see the actual bike again.” FAIRING KITS “Our fairing kits have been really successful – they’re a great way to modernise an older sportsbike.” ANVIL “This is used to form exhaust sections by hand, the only automated part of the process is the lasercutting of the sections. All cones for the expansion chambers are hand-rolled then hand-welded. A twostroke exhaust is built from a number of sections and takes around half a day to build. Your average exhaust has 10 sections, but a 1988 NSR250 exhaust has 44! Fourstroke pipes are just a few tubes – easy.” SILENCER BAFFLE TUBES “A two-stroke baffle is basically just a perforated tube wrapped in a sounddeadening glass material. We use automotive quality pre-formed glass that is very easy to work with and is so much better than the old-fashioned loft insulation type. It has an epoxy in it that burns off when the exhaust is first heated up. There are no real performance benefits to sound deadening material – it’s just to stop people complaining.”



CNC ROOM “We have two CNC machines, which cost around £100,000, that we use for fabricating yokes, filler caps, rearsets, sprockets and any other solid billet parts. The room is sound-proofed to keep the neighbours happy. The machines are a hell of an investment but are essential to have in any company such as ours.”



THE GARAGE / 360º GARAGE OUTDOOR SHRINE “The Thai people are quite spiritual and one of the first things we did was to set up the shrine. The workers really wanted it and it is important to keep the gods happy. Most Thai offices have one and the workers bring gifts and offerings to the shrine. I’m not sure they would have done any work if we hadn’t built it! At least once a week they are out there putting offerings on it.”

EXPANSION CHAMBER HEADERS “The exhaust pipes are assembled in two or three different sections which are welded together in a jig. We design them using CAD software together with our experience of how engines perform. You can alter the motor’s performance through the exhaust by varying its diameter, shape, length, etc. Angles are crucial. It’s all down to pressure waves, which are trying to draw gasses out of the engine as well as feed it back into the ports. You need low pressure at the header to draw gas out before the final taper sends a wave back that pushes the fuel mixture back to the ports at the correct time.”

HONDA NSR300SP “Paul has owned this 1994 NSR MC28 since 1995 and it’s our rolling showcase of parts. It has a 300cc big-bore mod that brings the power up from 40bhp to 70-something. It also has a load of lightweight components on it – wheels, subframe, uprated brakes and a few HRC bits including the rad, carbs and smartcard ignition. Although we build bits for a huge variety of machines, the NSR is the bike closest to our hearts.”

‘Always start rich and lean off gradually’ MATT’S WORKSHOP WISDOM SEAL UP Whenever fitting an exhaust, use a high temperature sealant (such as a Permatex) to prevent gas leakages. This is important on a two-stroke as escaping gasses can stain the engine and exhaust with two-stroke oil.


START RICH When playing around with two-stroke jetting, always start rich and then lean off gradually. It’s considerably cheaper to replace some oiled up plugs than to completely rebuild an engine that has been run too lean and nipped up. I’ve seen it happen.


DO A DUMMY RUN If you have bought an aftermarket fairing kit, always do a dummy fit to ensure all brackets and fixings are located correctly before painting. If you need to make any adjustments you can do it without worrying about damaging the new paint.

CLEARANCE COUNTS Be very careful when fitting a new exhaust or fairing as if there isn’t enough room between the two you will end up with conductive heat, which can cause fibre glass to burn or paint to blister. Go for a minimum of 2-3mm clearance for a two-stroke.

USE THE INTERNET We have an advice section on our website, but often we are too busy to respond. Get on specialist forums and ask the question, a lot of owners will have done what you are intending to do and will have made the usual mistakes.

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‘This isn’t about modifying, it’s about making use of what you’ve already got’

Needlework lessons Matt mucks about with carb settings to get the R1 running at its best 2000 YAMAHA YZF-R1 MATT WILDEE THIS MONTH I turned my attention to fuelling. I’ve always enjoyed the grunt meted out by the R1’s old-school, long-stroke, carbed motor but I’ve always been slightly underwhelmed by its midrange. Sure, it drove hard through the middle and felt strong at the top, too, but there was something lost in translation between throttle and rear wheel. After riding the bike, features editor Chris felt the same. Like me, he suspected perhaps it was running rich. A carburettor is a wonderful mechanical instrument, but like anything packed with delicate moving parts is subject to wear. Each time the vacuum-operated throttle slides on the R1’s bank of Mikuni BDSR 40mm CV carbs open and close, the needles and jets they interact with are subject to wear. On high-mileage bikes this can make a real difference. Needles wear narrower and the jets that they run in wear oval. The result is an engine letting in more fuel than it should and therefore skewing the air/ 102


STORY SO FAR Matt continues to twea) his 2000 R1 in a bid to make it as good as new.



Dyno time

CONTACTS BSD Developments, 01733-223377

fuel ratio from the perfect ratio of 13:1. And with the R1 just popping over the 30,000-mile mark there was a decent chance this is what was happening. To find out how the R1 was coping with middle age, I took the R1 to PB’s Fenland dyno experts BSD for some dyno runs with a lambda probe inserted into the YZF’s Akrapovic-branded anus. Three things were apparent. Firstly my R1 was a strong one – the 132bhp it made on BSD’s Dynojet dyno was better than brand-new test bikes did. Secondly, the road-legal Akrapovic can fitted to the bike back in 2000 performs exactly the same as an OE pipe. We tested them back to back and there was less than 0.5bhp between them. The third thing I learnt was the R1 was running weak in the midrange, not rich. According to BSD’s Mark Brewin, R1s of that age ran weak in the middle to get through emissions regulations. Studying the data you could tell the bike was running fine at the bottom and top-end. Raising the needles so they put in more fuel as the slides lifted would richen things up. You see, for those who have forgotten how CV carbs work, they have a throttle valve, operated by the

Notched needles are adjusted by altering position of a C-clip

Clean external condition was matched by near-spotless innards C-clips were moved down one notch to raise all four needles

Long-nose pliers are used to pull out the bung that secures the needle

Whitey sets about balancing the carbs

Performance benefits ON THE DYNO 140



Power/torque (bhp/lb.ft)

twistgrip. The slide is lifted by a vacuum created in the carb top as air is drawn into the motor, which means it lifts at the right rate to match the engine’s needs at any given rpm. CV carbs can still give excellent throttle repsonse and fuelling when set up and maintained correctly. I assumed that just like an R6 of similar vintage the needles were adjusted with shims, so took the bike to Whitey’s to get it sorted as he had a supply. To both our surprise 5JJ R1s actually have notched needles that can be adjusted by changing the position of a C-clip, but while we had the carbs out, Mark suggested we strip them. “If they’ve never been apart they’ll be minging inside,” he said. Surprisingly, they were in excellent order. I’d already been told by one of the R1’s previous owners that he’d drained the carbs every year and there was no sign of dirt in the float bowls or anywhere else in the fuel system. In fact, all we could find was a partially-blocked pilot jet in carb number one. The pilot jet fuels the bike at tickover and at small throttle openings, and I was hoping this may partly explain the bike’s occasional snatchiness at small throttle openings. We raised the needles by about 1.5mm by lowering the C-clip one notch, put the carbs back together and Mark balanced them. Riding the bike afterwards, it was obvious there was a difference. It still wasn’t a complete headcase in the middle, but the first 1/8th turn of the throttle was much creamier (thanks I suspect to that pilot jet) and the pull between 6000 and 9000rpm stronger. It’s a nicer, more exciting bike, which now responds better, makes more power in the middle and is even more effective at getting its power to the floor. This isn’t about modifying, it’s about making use of what you’ve already got. It also shows there are gains to be made by fettling rather than just blind modifying.

The slides show only superficial wear





Engine speed (rpm) 0 2k






STOCK SETTINGS 131.65bhp@9250rpm, 72.67lb.ft@9000rpm RAISED NEEDLES 134.30bhp@10,250rpm, 74.73lb.ft@9000rpm

THERE IS A clear improvement everywhere. It is now running richer in the middle, resulting in a gain of about 3bhp from 6000rpm, and it carries that advantage right to the top end with a 2.7bhp gain. But what really makes the difference is its performance on part throttle – much crisper, responsive and, thanks to the carb clean, nicer at small throttle openings.



The longest day 24 hours and 13 minutes with the world’s fugliest sportsbike... 1988 YAMAHA FZR400 CAROLINE BARRETT THE EFFORTS TO get the FZR road-worthy for the Longest Day Down challenge looked futile in the week running up the charity rally for sub-£300 nails. A part of me hoped Mark White would make good his threats of failure, as the prospect of riding 908 miles in 24 hours on a bike built from boxes of shit was starting to terrify me. He got the better of the FZR, firing it up with days to spare. A pot full of sponsorship meant there was no way I could back out, despite my persistent nerves. Hammering rain on the roof kept me awake on the night before the ride, negating any need for an alarm call for the 4:02am start. It let up just a few miles down the road, but not before it had soaked my socks. My unfamiliarity with the FZR’s handling, plus rain and nerves made for a steady first few miles. But the riding positon felt OK, and a cable-tied nose fairing lashed on at the last minute proved a good move. What was an issue was the lack of reserve function on the fuel tap. I had no idea of the tank range. At the first fuel stop I calculated I could probably do up to 150 miles before running dry, but chickened out at 100 miles rather than test my roadside maths. It cruised happily at 60-70mph, but awful vibrations set in if I nudged 80mph, making the ‘Longest Day’ a very realistic prospect with an enforced speed cap. I blagged some dry socks from the support van at the first fuel stop before heading south to Inverness. The A9 carried us to Ediburgh before picking up the A68 down to Northumberland. Amazing roads, with stunning scenery, and the miles passed with pleasure. The bike had used a litre of oil at Jedburgh, so I checked it at every stop afterwards out of paranoia. Oddly, it didn’t use any more for the rest of the journey. The hardest slog was from Darlington to Sheffield, right in the middle of the journey. LDD prohibits the use of motorways, and it seemed to take forever to get through Yorkshire. But, I’d gelled with the bike, and it was running well, even though it caught me out with its reluctance to hot-start after stalling at a roundabout. A fellow LDDer got it going with

Fellow Longest Day Down participants set off at the crack of dawn, in some typically Scottish summertime weather

STORY SO FAR Caz’s basket (of shite) case FZR was overpriced at free. Now it has to do 900 miles in a day…



in fuel. £10 in fur. £68 in Ginster Buffet Bars.

CONTACTS M&M Motorcycles 01780 482277

Socks soaked after just half an hour, it’s going to be a long old day for Caz and the Furry Fury

deft juggling of starter and throttle. The rev counter also malfunctioned, needle flicking around wildly. Some mates joined me for the ride through the Midlands, which gave a real boost as boredom started to affect concentration. A diet of cereal bars and water saw me flagging. An experiment with strong coffee led to an urgent toilet visit, so I stayed off the hot brown stuff to avoid filling my suit with something similar. When I realised I was going the same way as my rev counter, I started to sing out loud to keep focus. But I couldn’t remember the words to any of my favourite tunes, so I garbled random crap like the alphabet song. I’d been warned about the final stretch being a hard slog. The road signs seemingly counted down to Exeter and beyond in such tiny steps, it felt like going backwards to my knackered brain. I stopped reading them. Dusk came, and brought lashing rain again. The FZR’s headlights are crap, so I relied on the tail light of the bike in front, putting faith in his judgement. I missed the entrance to a petrol station in my tired state, and fearful of the FZR’s unknown fuel range I doubled back to come in the exit. It was cambered away from me and I needed to put my foot down on the wet, greasy surface to steady myself. Tired rider and tired bike ended up sprawled on the forecourt. Luckily the only damage was a slightly bent gear lever, but a short while later the oil light flickered on, so I chucked a litre in to avoid grief. The tumble might just have upset a sensor, but I was determined to finish. Lands End was a sight for sore eyes (and everything else) at 4:15am, 24 hours, 13 minutes after starting. I was elated to finish, even shattered and in pouring rain. I’d repaid the faith of my sponsors, and the total pot in aid of Cancer Research came to over £18k. The Furry Fury defied its rattly big-ends, worn piston pins and many maladies to finish without major issue. I developed a real affinity with the old nail, and it’ll take permanent residence in our garage. Partly because nobody else is likely to want it.

‘Tired rider and tired bike ended up sprawled on the petrol station forecourt’ 104



There is so much wrong about this picture on so many levels


The FZR could have probably done 150 miles between stops, but with no reserve light, I took the risk-free strategy


Borrowed from a mate at the last minute, this extra cushioning meant bum-ache wasn’t going to be an issue


Two litres in total. Once because the bike has used a litre of oil, again because I dropped the bike and panicked


Found in a box at the back of the garage, the FZR’s fairing was fur-coated and lashed on at the eleventh hour


Whitey has a secret stash of fur in his dressing-up box. Wet through, it adds approximately 20kg to the FZR’s bulk



Pirelli Angel GT tyres are a great all-year choice

The end of the affair

Rupe builds bridges with the SS after months on an MT-07 2001 DUCATI 900SS RUPERT PAUL FOR THE FIRST time in our four-year relationship my SS has been fleetingly neglected while I disported myself with a younger, more willing mistress: my wife’s Yamaha MT-07. The affair started innocently enough when I got my maths wrong at the 900’s last service and bought a too-small Desmo closer shim. I didn’t have time to nip back to get the right size. Instead, I pushed the SS into the garage and started riding the MT instead. Before I knew it, two months had passed. Even with all my careful changes to the Ducati’s suspension, brakes, riding position, tyres and engine map it is fundamentally an exercise in self-flagellation. The MT, on the other hand, has its weight in exactly the right place, it changes direction with ridiculous ease, and the riding position is perfect. Control, vision, comfort and feel are all miles better. Also, the engine warms up in two minutes (the Ducati takes 20 miles). So I just kept on riding the Yamaha. Eventually my mate Torbjörn goaded me into getting the SS running again. Except it didn’t run. Total electrical failure. A check revealed a paltry 4 volts from the year-old Motobatt battery. As Motobatts are excellent, the obvious suspect was a leaky regulator rectifier. Checking resistance from the three alternator input wires to the earth and live in both directions revealed a

STORY SO FAR Crash repair project, much tweaked, now pretty much OK


2 3 4 2 8

blown diode. I found a new, US-made reg/rec at M&P for £70.50. It’s claimed to have superior heat dispersal to the original. A day and a half later the charger light finally went green, and the bike came back to life. Since then I’ve been rediscovering the Ducati’s matronly charms. After 1500 miles on a nympho MT-07, is like clambering onto an ageing, rather bony duchess. The Ducati can’t come near a modern bike’s balance, corner speed and ease of use. But it has charm, a meaty engine and is good on the brakes. I’ve had Pirelli Angel GT tyres on it (120/70, 180/55) since last autumn and now they’re getting good and hot they give as much feedback and grip as you could want on the road. Direction changing is good for a Ducati, though I’m paying for that with a slight tendency to wobble at high speed. I’ve 5mm of fork drop and 10mm of shock extension, so the bike is always going to be more nervous than standard. With its low c of g the Ducati needs lots of lean angle to corner quickly, so it’s easy to ride right to the edge of the rear tyre. Possibly a 180/60 would help. Fortunately the front has a bit of tread in reserve. It’s now four years since I bought the SS as a crashed runner, and it’s pretty much finished as a project. What’s next? Another Ducati, certainly – but with more power, better weight distribution and an MT-07 type riding position. Maybe something based on the new 821cc motor.

‘It has charm, a meaty engine and it’s good on the brakes’




As Suzuki intended

RGV is about to return to factory-anodised condition 1992 SUZUKI RGV250N JOHN McAVOY MY LAST INSTALMENT on my RGV250N was a while ago, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing anything with it. OK, I mostly haven’t been doing anything with it, but I have been doing my homework on the best way to restore the alloy frame. A chance conversation with Kieran Sangha of Hart Motors, Leicester, during a Mallory Park test day revealed he has experience of dealing with alloy and offered to take a look at the state of my frame and swingarm before promising any miracles. I dismantled the ‘dry-built’ rolling chassis and took it over to Kieran. “Is that it?”, he asked as if a little bit disappointed that it wasn’t in worse condition. It seems that my idea of “shitty” isn’t the same as his. Kieran plans to strip the frame and swingarm of the last few bits and pieces still attached, vapour-blast everything, then clear-anodise it so the factory finish is retained. Knowing full well that restoring a factory-anodised alloy frame is notoriously difficult, one option was to go the opposite direction and powdercoat it silver or even black. But the chance of a ‘factory’ finish has cemented my desire to get the RGV back to original condition STORY SO FAR rather than build a race Bought blind for £700 replica with something whilst under the like a Lucky Strike influence of alcohol and bodykit. rose-tinted memories. Next month, I should Spent nearly two years sourcing all the correct have everything back bits for the chassis to and looking boxfresh, make it into what it ready for the exciting should have been business of final advertised as. assembly. I can’t wait.

Frame and swingarm are being restored to factory condition VJ22A: Johnny’s RGV frame is definitely an M-model or later





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THE RRs ARE new for this year, and they did well in our 2015 tyre test, where they performed excellently on the road and also set very good laptimes on the track. To see how they would perform over a longer period I’ve tried them on PB’s long-term Panigale S. After 1000 miles of road and track riding, I’ve been impressed. On the road they warm up well, they offered more stability than the tired OE Supercorsas and for such extreme tyres don’t feel out of their place at sub100mph speeds. On the track they worked very well – RRs are a lovely, neutral tyre that give a huge amount of feedback and enough feel from the front-end to run in deep on the brakes. They require a nice, consistent bar pressure during the turn-in phase and drop in with predictability. When you start really pushing hard, the 196bhp of the Panigale can overwhelm the rear, but that isn’t



The K3 designation denotes ‘road’ compound. It is still a multi-compound rear. The K2s and K1s are for racing – they won this year’s Supersport TT


Front is available in 120/70 x 17 in K1, K2 and K3 compound; rear is available in 180/55, 180/60, 190/55 and 200/55 in K2 and K3 compound

surprising – no other bike has the same power and torque. But the rear broke away with such a progressive nature that it was actually fun and encouraged me to lay big, fat darkies without seeming to lose any time. A single trackday finished the rear tyre off, but Silverstone is hard on tyres – with long, fast corners where you’re hard on the gas meaning localised heat build-up. But the tyre still worked well when it


looked shagged. It just moved around a little more. On any other track I’d expect to get at least two trackdays from a rear and probably four from the front. For road riding I’d expect 2-3000 miles from a rear. With these being road compound I didn’t need to use any warmers and the tyres were hot and grippy within two laps of Silverstone’s 1.64-mile National Circuit. Matt Wildee


I ran 36/36psi F/R cold on the road and adjusted the tyres to 33/26psi F/R hot on the track





THE PB OFFICE lacks bike washing facilities, which is where potions like Triplewax’s waterless wash come in. I picked it up from our local Wilkinsons – what they mean is you don’t need additional water to use it; it does obviously have a certain H2O content. Squirt a a bit all over grubby/fly-splattered areas, and by the time

you’ve circled the bike and picked up a cloth it’s ready to wipe away. Dust, flies and grease come off admirably, given that it’s such a cheapand-easy clean. If you consider cleaning a yearly duty, this won’t do the job, but for clearing flies, brakes dust and the kind of superficial muck that summer riding generates, it definitely delays the aggro of a full wash. Chris Newbigging

S-Doc100 Dry lube


I DO LOVE spotless chains, but intensly dislike having to clean oily, gritty clag off them to get them that way. Dry lube could be the answer to this. And it is – sort of. You need to throughly degrease the old chain first – cleaning every link properly to apply it effectively. It sprays on clear, and dries invisible. It doesn’t pick up shite, and the lack of fling is of particular benefit on my Z1000, which throws a lot of clag at the painted underside of the seat with ordinary lube.

But there is a downside. It’s difficult to know when it’s worn off – it’s neither tacky nor visible, so I feel I’ve been allowing the chain to run completely dry before reapplication, which I’ve done after 300 miles. It definitely disappears in the rain, too. It has been OK on my downhill mountain bike – it doesn’t pick up too much grit. And I’ll use it on my occasionally ridden, white-wheeled RGV250, too. But £16 is a lot to spend on short-lived chain lube you can only use in the dry. Back to cleaning chains, for now. Chris Newbigging







Am-Tech seal picks HOW LONG TWO SEALS, HALF AN HOUR COST £2.56 CONTACT EBAY MY RGV250 SEEMS to be in an eternal state of leaking. The latest dribblings are from the kickstart shaft seal, and the power-valve shaft seals are also allowing oily goo to issue forth as the lubrication system seems to be dumping fullysynthetic in at an uncontrollable rate, and it’s forcing its way out. Rather than levering the old ones out with a trusty screwdriver, I bought this four-pack of picks on eBay at the same time that I ordered seals. For the pitiful asking price, these were great. Both

seals were levered out without the sort of damage the bodge method generally achieves, and without having to remove the clutch cover either. They’re too thin for old, hardened seals – I’ve since broke the thin tip off one when fiddling with a spare engine. It’s still useable with what’s left, and a larger, more robust alternative you’ll need for bigger or tougher seals wouldn’t be suitable for the job I got them for. Put simply, for the money I paid, they’re a good buy for fishing smaller seals out. Chris Newbigging

Alpinestars GP Plus gloves HOW LONG £129.99 COST 18 MONTHS/10,0000 MILES CONTACT WWW. ALPINESTARS.COM OVER THE LAST year and a half I’ve used these gloves for commuting, trackdays and road tests. Thanks to their comfort, feel and looks they’ve become one of my kit staples. But now I’ve had to throw them away – they’ve simply worn out. The GP Plus had a lot of Alpinestars trademark bits and pieces, such as distinctive plastic knuckle armour, joined fourth and fifth finger

and plenty of venting to make them comfortable on hot summer track sessions. They bedded in quickly and were comfy for all-day riding –more so than my Revvit or Knox gloves. All the wear has happened on the fingers

from the clutch and brake levers. The leather has gone polished and thin and the stitching has rubbed on the brake lever and failed, exposing a bit of my finger. It’s happened on other Aplinestars gloves I’ve had at around the same mileage, too. It wouldn’t stop me buying them, as they are excellent. But if you do average sort of mileage, expect to replace them every few years. Matt Wildee




Now that we can handle Rutter tests chassis tweaks to Johnny’s KTM. They’ve transformed it




2015 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R JOHN McAVOY FRESH FROM ITS first service, I decided that the first ‘proper’ thing I should do to the Super Duke R is address the three key areas of weakness that Michael Rutter pinpointed when he rode a standard one at Mallory Park last year, then get him to try it again. They were: high-speed instability (a common problem on naked bikes), poor ground clearance and low grip. The first job was to set the suspension up. As standard, the Super Duke comes with a soft set-up overall, and to give an indication of how soft, I’ve added four turns of preload to the rear shock just to get 30mm of rider sag. I’d like less, but on account of the fact that Rutter weighs about a third of what I do, I left it at 30mm. Luckily the forks have 33mm of sag as standard, which is about right. Lucky because the forks have no preload adjustment. There is compression damping adjustment in one fork and rebound in the other, so I’ve added three turns of each. This is quite a lot, but the quality of the components is such that making big changes has dramatically changed the attitude of the bike from being a soft, friendly, ‘one size fits all’ set-up to something much more purposeful. Quicker at turning, more composed at the apex, much less weight transfer when braking and accelerating. And on the road it’s much faster at recovering from bumps. It’s a different bike. Next was a set of KTM’s rearsets from their Powerparts range. Made from high-grade aluminium and with pukka carbon-fibre heelguards, they provide a serious range of adjustment. Once I’d got them on the bike and set them in their highest and furthest back position, the footpegs were 45mm higher and 35mm further back than standard. This may not sound a lot, but the difference when I first rode with them was dramatic. Now my riding position is in keeping with the new

Whitey struggles to hide contempt for the rearsets...

...But they’ve honed Johnny’s riding position


£13,999 177BHP | 189KG





KTM PowerParts rearsets

BEST MOMENT The first ride after suspension set-up. Attack mode!

Rutter revels in the extra grip, and therefore drive, Johnny’s bike now gives him round Mallory

suspension set-up. My upper body is much more leant forward over the front of the bike, which will help hugely with the high-speed instability caused by the rider acting as a sail and causing the front to lift. Finally, the Pirelli Supercorsas left over from last month’s tyre test went on and the Super Duke was ready for its day of reckoning at Mallory. The plan was to get Rutter half an hour on track with my bike once we’d finished the Panigale R and R1M test (page 82). However, his time was cut short by a red flag before he could set a representative time. He managed just a four-lap run on cold tyres, but did lap faster than the stock bike, albeit by just 0.2 seconds. But when you consider the cold tyres and the fact that he wheelied the entire length of the Stebbe Straight, it is clear that Rutter had yet to settle down to any sort of degree of commitment to a quick lap. The plan is to bring it back for another crack at a representative laptime, but in the meantime there are some clues in the data he did produce and the feedback he gave. The standard bike recorded a “terrifying” peak speed on the start/finish straight of 131.03mph, where on Rutter’s fourth lap on my bike, he registered a “totally stable” 136.36mph at the same point. The engine on my bike is totally standard, so all the gains are from chassis set-up and tyres. And the much higher top speed (that would probably be north of 140mph on a ‘proper’ lap) is a result of superior grip through the Devil’s Elbow. There is more evidence of what potential my bike has when you consider that by the time Rutter exits Gerards, and before he pops a wheelie, he is already 0.2s faster than the stock bike. It’s the same story at the exit of Edwina’s where he is 5mph faster. So there is evidence in the very limited data that, with a few simple chassis tweeks, I’ve turned the Super Duke R into something quite different. The fact that Rutter set a faster time than the stock bike is a result. But the fact that he did it on his fourth lap, on cold tyres, with the front wheel in the air is encouraging. Bring on round two...

‘With a few chassis tweaks I’ve turned the bike into something quite different’




Running with the big boys

Little bike, big speed. Our Trumpy demonstrates its incredible trackday pace 2015 TRIUMPH DAYTONA CHRIS NEWBIGGING THE 2015 SUPERBIKE class has a wide array of markedly different bikes laden with amazing tech, all capable of awesome speed yet in a manner that’s easy to use, thanks to the witchcraft of the latest rider aids. But there’s still room in the world for your simple, straightforward sportsbike where the rider makes all the decisions. We purposely chose a base model 675 over the R, because we believe it offers performance as good as anything else without paying the premium for a big sportsbike, or even the extra cost of an R-model. After putting the previous issue of PB to print, we took the opportunity to slink away from the office and thrap around Silverstone’s National circuit. I snapped up the Daytona, rather than grapple my Zed. The National circuit wasn’t near the top of my trackday wishlist – my only previous visit was a damp autumn race meet on a Kawasaki GPz550. This time round, it was a very different story. Dry, warm enough, and with 116bhp of Britain’s best to play with, it was a ball. It’s a short lap (just over a minute at fast group pace), but with two 100mph plus corners and two decent straights, it’s an intense 1.64 miles. Litre bikes are the theoretical weapon of choice. 112






0 2 7 2 5 BEST MOMENT Carrying enough momentum to pass 1000s on straights.

Silverstone’s own instructors have a fleet of 2015 R1s, and the gaggle of trackday bikes running the quickest laps were all litre bikes. But our 675 more than held its own. The Triumph gives a full 80bhp away to Matt’s Pani, but he could only pull two seconds a lap by using the Duke’s fat and tall power curve to pull away. When we were circulating together, it revealed some interesting points. The Triumph’s simple ride-byyourself cable throttle doesn’t need electronic assistance – direct the bike at an exit and crack it hard. The Triumph spent the whole day painting black lines like a 600 shouldn’t, and actually got an initial leap on the 1299 before the Ducati’s computer decided there was enough grip to dial in torque. Braking advantage went to the Daytona – the black Nissins may look plain, but they’re strong enough to pull back some time on the Ducati. I turned the ABS off after the first session – I found the ABS doesn’t quite allow full power until it’s satisfied the front tyre is really loaded up, and it lets off at the point the back tyre is unloaded and starts swaying around. Matt was able to run the same corner speed as the Daytona, which he thinks is impressive for a superbike, which it is I suppose. But think of it this way: a sub-£10,000, two-year-old base model supersport bike with no rider aids or semi-active suspension is still able to hang with £21,000 of WSB-developed, 2015 exotica


‘The 675 gives away 80bhp to Matt’s Panigale, but he could only pull 2s a lap’

Rack and roll lifestyle

Luggage? On a sportsbike? Deal with it 2015 BMW S1000RR SIMON HARGREAVES

with the very best of Ducati/Öhlins setup wisdom controlling it via the electronics. The OE Pirelli Supercorsa SPs were shagged after a recent Rutter test, so I ditched them for a pair of Continental RaceAttack Endurance compound. They’re theoretically a race tyre, but are capable and legal for road use. They gave great feel, grip and handing all day, and were fine without tyre warmers. But the warmest session did provoke squirming at the rear pitching in to Woodcote flat in fifth, resulting in the rubber being knawed away about two inches from the edge. Continental’s technical advisor reckons it’s an issue often found with long, fast corners taken at full throttle. Clearways at Brands Hatch causes a similar issue apparently. The speed, lean and drive combine to cause a localised spike in tyre temperatures. I maintained hot, just-off-the-track pressures at 31psi front/26psi rear – dropping the rear to 24-25psi is Conti’s advice in future instances of this behaviour. They also said fronts are generally run at 32-33psi, but the lightweight Triumph was fine at 31psi. They’re probably still good for 1500 more road miles, and another trackday somewhere with a greater mix of corners, rather than constant high-speed, big lean punishment Silverstone dishes out.

“PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY you’re saddling that finely-tuned sportsbike with such an offensive carbuncle,” says Editor Matt. Well, it’s almost already a tourer, isn’t it? What with factory cruise control and heated grips, and a 150-mile tank range (if you go slowly), it only takes a modicum of luggage and you’ve got the world’s fastest sports tourer on your hands. I’ve a long, slightly inauspicious history of bolting touring kit to sportsbikes, but I don’t care what anyone says. I had a Ventura bike rack on a ZZ-R1100 C1 in 1992. And a Blade in 1996. And a GSX-R1000 K5 in 2005. And an S1000RR in 2009. I enjoy they way the frames bolt on with no bother in seconds. And how you can swap racks about for anything from small packs for phone, wallet, trousers and trainers, through to a ginormous 63-litre pack which swallows a set of leathers, boots and gloves with room to spare. And how you can even now get a frame that carries a hard top box. And I also love the absurdity of it all; subverting expectations. “Oh look, an S1000RR with a tailpack? What a numpty.” Yeah, still laughing after you’ve been dusted, pal? These days the big barrier to big miles on the S1000RR is its riding position. While not as uncompromising as the most extreme sportsbikes, the RR is more of an effort as I get older. You could say that’s why BMW created the S1000XR. But while it is indeed a stonking motorbike and its wide, easy-going riding position makes the RR feel like a cramped little toy, it’s ain’t a sportsbike and it doesn’t make you want to tear your clothes off and run about beating your chest and defiling virgins after you’ve been for a blast. But, I’m not sure how many would be interested. I find an “offensive carbuncle” tends to put them off.





0 3 1 4 1 MPG THIS MONTH

36mpg BEST MOMENT Pulling the pin riding home from Cadwell on a 10-mile stretch of quiet Wolds back road. Yes, we know. Don’t worry – we’ve had words...




This is the third time we’ve seen Matt smile all year. Fact

Panigale hits the track


Matt takes the 1299 to Silverstone. It’s not a disaster 2015 DUCATI 1299 PANIGALE S MATT WILDEE

THANKS TO THE boredom of a forced family holiday keeping me off the bike, I’ve only ridden 500 miles on the Panigale this month. But every single one has been packed with quality. This month marked the first time I’ve been able to take the Panigale on track and just like when I first rode the 1299 Panigale on its launch back in January, PB’s long-termer had massive grunt and enough traction to gap every other sportsbike out of every corner. Around the high-speed corners on Silverstone’s National Circuit the Panigale was peerless, thanks to a tactile front-end that let you brake deep and hard, a motor that pulls hard all the way though its rev-range with hard-edged relentlessness and electronics that let you exploit every last ounce of performance. After 2200 miles the OE Pirelli Supercorsas had seen the end of their life, so I swapped them for a set of Metzeler Racetec RR K3s. These performed very well in our tyre test and I was interested to see how they worked on track. And after 120 miles and six sessions on track, I can say they suit the Panigale very well indeed, giving loads of feel and the kind of progressive breakaway that, when combined with Ducati’s excellent traction control system, allows you to lay thick dark lines out of every corner. The updates for this year’s Panigale allow you to

‘It overtook slick-shod race bikes. You can’t ask more of a totally stock road bike’




£20,750 196BHP | 194KG



0 2 2 9 0 Silverstone is a great place for any sportsbike

calibrate the electronics for different tyres. Although different makes of sports tyre may have the same size, in actual fact there is quite a difference in diameter, which can skew wheel speed readings and confuse the TC. To get it to work, you need to bring up the correct menu and ride at an indicated 30-32mph in second gear. Using rpm and wheel-speed data, the ECU changes its internal settings accordingly. I used the bike in ‘Race’ setting, which meant the TC and anti-wheelie were turned down to two out of eight, and the suspension to its ‘harder’ setting. I also experimented with engine-braking strategies, in the end reducing its input to increase the amount of engine braking, to help pull the bike to each apex. I’ve always loved riding at Silverstone – wide, sweeping and with big, balls-out corners, every layout is exciting and the National Circuit is no exception. The


Electronics are calibrated for new tyres

Island hopper PB’s long-term GSX-R750 goes on holiday to the Isle of Man 2015 SUZUKI GSX-R750 JON URRY Racetecs RRs took a pasting

Pani felt invincible through Woodcote

fourth-gear Woodcote kink is one of the most hardcore corners in the world – a 90mph entry, a knee over the kerb and a smearing 130mph exit with the shift and TC lights blinking. The same is true of Copse, where when you’re hard on it the rear moves for an age as you shift from third into fourth at the exit. The Panigale was very impressive, running at the front the fast group, overtaking a bunch of slick-shod race and track bikes and out dragging everything. You can’t ask more from a stock road bike. But it did muller the tyres. By the end of the sixth session the rear was moving a little more and the right-hand shoulder down to its wear indicators. It’s not surprising, though – you spend a huge amount of time on the gas with the bike banked over, and probably lay dark lines for a about quarter of Silverstone’s 1.6-mile lap. Fast bikes eat tyres. That’s the reality of 190bhp.

RECOVERING THE GSX-R from the depths of the PB lock-up was a rare pleasure. In the sunshine the new bodykit impressed me – a feeling that lasted approximately one mile until the tank panel started to fall off. No matter, a bit of grey gaffa and all was secure. I was under strict instructions not to scratch it when I borrowed the GSX-R for my trip to the TT, so with the gaffa already at hand I covered the vulnerable panels then fixed my Bags Connection tailpack. Great stuff, like the rest of the GSX-R range the 750 has hooks on its pillion pegs. Bad stuff, there is nowhere to fit the rear supports! I looped them under the numberplate hanger. The motorway journey to Liverpool highlighted that, as sportsbikes go, the GSX-R is really comfortable. And better than that, I did over 136 miles until I saw a reserve light. As I was being very careful not to mark the GSX-R, I was a worried when I was given a small bit of rope to secure it on the ferry. Luckily, the rope didn’t snap and I rolled off in Douglas at 1am. It was at this point I discovered the roadlegal Yoshi can is actually quite fruity when it is reverberating off houses in the dead of night. Matt had given me instructions to ‘thrash the shit out of Si’s GSX-R’. I would have obliged, but every morning and evening, someone crashed on the Mountain, closing the road. On the very brief time I did nail the GSX-R I found the amount of twist required to fully open the gas is ludicrous. Matt agrees, it needs to be lower geared. On my motorway trip it wasn’t an issue, but on the road it makes the 750 feel lethargic and uninspiring. A GSX-R750 really shouldn’t feel this way.





0 1 6 0 1

Tank panels are only taped on as standard. Si just needs to buy some stronger replacement tape After many miles of motorway, the GSX-R750 arrived in its natural habitat




Wrestling match


Our beefy supernaked goes sportsbike hunting at Snet 2015 KAWASAKI Z1000 CHRIS NEWBIGGING I’M BONDING NICELY with the Zed. It’s a really fun road bike – loads of grunt, decent handling, good looks and a reasonable amount of useability. It’s OK for a bit of solo motorway work, and is getting me to work with a smile on my chops every day, too. But no matter how much fun I have on the Queen’s Highway, I crave the thrill of trackdays. Matt found a £39 track evening on the Snetterton 300 circuit, and it seemed like a great way to test the Zed’s capability. In preparation, I ditched the OE Dunlops. They were typically unexceptional factory-fit tyres. Stable, OK grip, but not much feedback, and they weren’t helping the Zed’s back-endy handling. Michelin had just launched the Pilot Supersport Evo as I pondered replacement, so I selected a 190/55 rear instead of the stock 190/50. The run across Norfolk to reach Snet (and scrub them in) confirmed I’d done the right thing. The whole bike steers more naturally now – it’s still not perfect, but it’s definitely better for the slight increase in ride height and sharper tyre profiles. On track, the Kawasaki’s bulk soon generated heat in the Michelins and allowed me to get to grips with Snetterton’s newest layout – sort of. As it turned out, Snet really isn’t a track to enjoy the Kawasaki. The two fast straights were a nightmare. Clinging on whilst using the torquey power and fighting a strong crosswind wore me out. The wind on the Revett straight, combined with my deathgrip on the bars made it weave at 140mph. But I was surprised to find the infield section hard, too.

New Michelin Pilot Supersport Evos are a top mod – especially at 190/55





0 1 5 8 2 BEST MOMENT Hitting a big bump and not getting my bollocks pounded by the shock for the first time.

Almost every corner is tight, and the hefty Zed is reluctant to turn in hard despite the wide bars and quality forks. In low gears, the jerky transition from off to neutral throttle is enough to punt me offline. Once you’ve found a line and are opening the throttle, the Kawasaki gives loads of feedback, and even has reasonable ground clearance. The torque helps it out of corners. But you really have to park it into a corner, turn and settle the bike on a neutral throttle before you can attack with confidence. Riches, Palmer, the Bombhole and Coram weren’t a problem though. It’s much happier in these faster, more flowing bends, so I’ll reassess the Zed on a track more suitable later on – perhaps Cadwell. Back on the road, I’ve been taking out rebound damping from the rear shock. It’s steadily got better, until I hit the stop for the minimum setting. It now just about returns at a normal rate, which has helped it maintain geometry better, turning tighter and understeering less. I may pull the forks up in the yokes just to balance it a little better. A new exhaust is also a priority – losing weight from low down will raise the centre of gravity and help turning. It’s also a good excuse to sort the fuelling issue while I’m at it.

‘Clinging on using the torquey power and fighting a crosswind wore me out’

Chris settles nicely into the Snetterton 300 death-grip










“All I want to do is race motorbikes”

Says UK’s leading neuroscientist

“I missed this place so much”

Nine pages of Mugello madness

ALSO AVAILAB ON THE iPad MCN Sport on the iPad is a fully interactive App with extra pics and videos. Download the iPad version from the Apple Newsstand.



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That’s why I ride


Öhlins Road and Track forks are sprung and damped for the road and provide superb ride quality

TESTASTRETTA ENGINE Can trace its heritage right back to Pantah 500 of 1980. That only made 50bhp, though


They’re rare – just 78 S4RS are currently licenced in the UK, and just twelve red, white and green Tricolores on the road


No.26 DUCATI MONSTER S4RS Matt needs to decide: is a nine-year-old naked Ducati worth a divorce?

MATT WILDEE EDITOR THE S4RS MIGHT be a perfect example that you can have too much of a good thing. With more power than a Ducati 916SP, top-level running gear and a riding position better suited to cruising a Bologna suburb than lapping Brands Hatch, it is a rolling contradiction in terms. Brash, ballsy, but about a million miles from Ducati’s original Monster concept, it isn’t for everyone. But for the last nine years I’ve secretly harboured a desire to have one that’ll one day get me in serious debt. When Ducati launched the first Monster in 1993, it wasn’t really trying to be a highperformance bike. With an 80bhp 900SS motor and decent suspension it was quick enough, but its air-cooled motor was gloriously simple, too. Then Ducati gave it more power, firstly with the water-cooled engine from the 916 to create the S4, then with the power unit of the 996 to create the S4R and finally with the S4RS which used 122

the 130bhp Testastretta motor from the 998. All of this created extra fuss – oil coolers, radiator pipework, more heavy-duty suspension, fatter tyres and bigger brakes. The perfume-wearers of PB’s ‘art department’ have never approved. The big-power S4RS was the most cluttered. They say the oil-cooler hangs like dangleberry on a bullock and the exhaust can’t hide the colostomy bag shame of its huge catalytic converter. But I say it’s very easy to forgive a motorcycle for having a radiator as it floats another perfect third-gear monowheel. And the S4RS was built for this – even in the world where super-nakeds have 160bhp, the S4RS is still one of the most exciting naked bikes on the planet. Opening the throttle takes you back to a golden place, a place where the twang of a Testastretta motor was the soundtrack to a WSB weekend of drinking and sunburn. That 998 motor is still quick – booming through the midrange before providing enough shove to skew reality and make the needles on the glorious white-faced twin-


clock dash a blur. The motor dominates the bike, shaking you to the core, harmonising throttle-body gulp with the kind of barelylegal exhaust noise that only Ducati seem to be able to get away with. It’s like they’ve just ripped the fairing off an old 998 racer. The bars dance, as weight distribution and geometry never really designed to cope with so much power works at the limits of physics. Quality suspension helps things hugely, but you need sleight of hand to get the most from it. Get used to the gyration, revel in it and an S4RS is an effective bike. And it begs for modification. I’ve already mapped out ‘mine’ and it involves deceiving the wife. A full Zard system in titanium would be bought with my secret credit card, some delicate and exquisite Design Corse rearsets would replace the standard originals. I’d then fit a 180/60 x 17 rear Rosso Corsa to help pin that front wheel to the floor and give more ground clearance. The S4RS would then be used for snatched, hard, fast, jacket-and-jeans rides on perfect summer days. One day that dream will come true, even if it upsets PB’s designer. And my missus.



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