official photos of aprilia’s revolutionary superbike, the rsv4, have recently surfaced on the forums. this bike marks the return of aprilia to world superbike racing next season. i like the styling. it’s safe – more of an evolution of the rsv-1000. it seems like all manufacturers are going to the stubby one piece rear subframe.
after a month without a bike, i finally got a chance to ride today – not my 675 but my friend, richard’s, 1098. we stopped by crooked river moto to drop off some lap timers and also demo an 848. unfortunately, they didn’t have an 848 ready :(
so richard asked if i would like to take his 1098 out. they’re basically the same bike with different engines. at first i hesitated because my bike was out of commission (we’ll save that for another post…) but he still insisted.
man, the 1098 is a GREAT bike!!! it has so much character. the design, geometry, and engineering are top notch. and that unmistakeable ducati bark makes it fun just revving it.
my test loop consisted of surface streets in and around lakewood which spit me onto the shoreway. i then merged onto I-90 for the run back to lakewood. all in all, it’s about a 15 mi loop.
the 1098 isn’t in its element puttering around town. the engine chugs and surges at low rpm. seating position isn’t too bad. it doesn’t put any more stress on your wrists than the 675. it’s a little less compact and the seat is lower so i’m not on my tip-toes sitting at lights.
once out of town, the 1098 was able to stretch it’s legs. this bike is SCARY FAST!!! it accelerates with brutal force. you can feel the rear tire tearing the pavement with the every wrench the throttle. the 1098 made quick work of the shoreway confidently carving it’s smooth bends. the suspension soaked up the seams on the concrete overpass seams. dropping into inner-belt lets you appreciate the aural symphony that is a ducati engine. the bridges cause the exhaust to echo and reverberate everything around it. i made my way past a stretched hummer carrying a wedding party and all attention shifted from the bride to the approaching bologna bullet. this bike craves attention. a quick rap of the throttle and that mammoth limo is a speck in the mirrors.
i got to fully unleash the the demons on I-90 on my return run. the fast lane took on a whole new meaning. i dropped into 4th and hammered the go-grip and instantly i’m at ludicrous speed dispatching a heavily modified S2000 like it was standing still. the transmission is silky smooth and gears easily snick into place with barely any effort.
as i returned to richard’s 30 mins later, i had a huge grin on my face. i’m SOLD. if the 848 is half as fun as it’s big brother then i’ll be joining the ducuti fold as soon as the 675 gets offloaded. i’m thinking pearl white…
a couple friend and i made the trip out to the hoosier state for last weekend’s inaugural indy gp. it was an eventful weekend that will be forever remembered.
the day started out damp. rain spoiled the ride and forced us into the cage. it was for the better as the drive to indy from cleveland is rather boring. it’s 315 highway miles and takes a little more than 5 hrs. along the way we encountered some torrential downpours once we crossed into indiana. we arrived in allisonville, a suburb in the northeastern corner of the city, at around 6. i need a nap before dinner after driving. we ate thai, which was so-so.
we then headed downtown to check out the indy nightlife. from the condo, it was a 20 min drive to the epicenter. parking was scarce but we eventually found a spot on the street after 5 mins of driving around. we then walked to the strip of bars. it was very underwhelming. there wasn’t much to choose from. you had jillians, have a nice day cafe, blu, and a few others. basically, about a block of bars total. we went to have a nice day and it was weak. it was a sausagefest – 10 guys to 1 girl. and then it was another 10 not-so-good-looking girls to 1 cute girl. music was also garbage pop/country/hip-hop horribly mashed together by the sketchy looking dj. there were two positives: cute bartenders and only $0.50 beers!
the weather on sat was perfect – sunny and 80 deg f. we had a hulman suite which runs down the straight on the outside of the track (thanks, pepsi). it had a great vantage point. you could see from turns 11 to start/finish. best thing, they had paddock passes!!! paddock passes were unobtainable except if you knew someone or had a suite. we headed down to the infield right after 250 fp3 and wandered around. it seemed very empty. stopped by the bike tents and got a chance to sit on the new R1 (i’m sold!!!). the merchandising area was small. not much to choose from. stopped by ducati island. it seemed so isolated from everything else. getting into and out was a chore.
i liked the layout of the track except that it was completely flat. throw in some elevation changes (they’ve got a golf course next door fer cryin’ out loud) and it would be probably the best layout on the calendar. there were plenty of great areas to shoot from. and, the security wasn’t too bad. the track personnel were friendly and didn’t give you too hard of a time if you were not where you were supposed to be.
paddock access was fantastic. there weren’t a million people there. riders and teams were walking about. umbrella girls were flaunting their wares. well done.
rain day – i mean race day – started where sat left off. it was warm and sunny for all warmup sessions. after the 125cc race, i headed down to the track to stake out a spot in turn 2 (thought it’d be the best place to catch a spill). next up, the red bull rookies cup. those kids charge hard! very entertaining to watch them bash fairings and overcooking corners. love it! they managed to eke out their race before the remnants of hurricane ike whipped through.
the heavens unleashed a fury. luckily, i was prepared. i was wearing my moonstone gore-tex park, dri-fit shorts and sandals. i had my camera and lens wrapped in a gift bag to protect it from the elements. it worked perfect. first it was buckets of rain then gale force winds. i stood in my spot for 2 hrs waiting for the weather to pass. eventually, the grounds crew got the track to a manageable state and they got the race underway. unfortunately (i hate to say it), no one went down in turn 2 and after snapping some pics during the first few laps. i then ventured over to turn 9 and met up with jules who was also shooting photos. at around lap 17 or so, the weather returned and forced the the red flag out ending the race on lap 20. allegedly, the wind was so fierce that it was ripping out the staples that held the promo banners around the track flinging them onto the track. the wind knocked over bikes and even upended the yamaha tent injuring several people. craziness…
i strolled down to the paddock to snap some post-race photos, met up with jules, and bs’ed about the race.
the return trip was a repeat of fri.
the weekend was one for the record books – first race on the brickyard, abysmal weather, and hanging out with friends. you can’t beat it.
i’ve been meaning to post up about my most recent trackday that i did a month ago with nesba at beaverun. so here it is…
despite some electrical gremlins, the day turned out to be one to remember.
we camped overnight so there was no rush waking up early, traveling to the track, and getting set up. just rolled out of the tent, made breakfast, and chilled out until the rider’s meeting. the first couple sessions were rough. i needed to shake the cobwebs out and get my sense of speed back. i was riding ragged missing braking marks and apexes… it was especially fun to ride with johnny, who got bumped up to intermediate a few weeks prior.
then unexpectedly my bike wouldn’t start. it would crank over but wouldn’t fire. i missed the 3rd session and tore the bike down to try to find the culprit. long story short, we got it bump started and it ran perfect the rest of the day albeit it wouldn’t fire using the starter.
the day was fairly drama free. i had a couple off road excursions but kept it upright.
the last session was by far the funnest riding i’ve ever done!!! i had the pleasure of mixing it up with a gsxr-750 (rich). we were going back and forth trying to figure out each others strengths and weaknesses riding different lines trying to maximize advantages. we were pushing each other but in a good way. riding was tight but i never felt out of control or over my head throughout the session. in one instance, we into turn 1 side-by-side and felt comfortable with him next to me. i got the better of him but he made it up coming out of turn 8. all in all, fantastic riding. the kicker: we did a 1:05.77 lap!!! that’s bumping into advanced times. i dropped my personal best by 2 secs. extremely happy with that!!!
lap timing acquired by harry’s lap timer (available from twistandshift.com) top speeds indicated in red. green and yellow graph indicate g’s.
while perusing the crooked river motorcycles’ showroom, a helmet on caught my eye. it was a suomy vandal bayliss replica. how apropos that the lone suomy helmet in the shop was of ducati’s veteran wsbk master. i said that if my friend bought a 1098 that i’d buy the helmet. as you can see, he bought the bike.
the helmet is a mixed bag. it flows air like none other but it’s louder than my previous helmet. the one thing i can’t stand is wind noise and this helmet makes it sound like you’re in a hurricane. and this is with earplugs in.
anyway, enough of my bitching. the styling, ventilation, and quality of this helmet are top-notch. it’s a big improvement over my 8 yr old gunwind.
former motogp rider alex hoffman will be back on a bike in ’09 riding aprilia’s rsv-4. he’s currently testing the new bike in spain getting it in shape for its debut at one of the last rounds of this season. that’s all. move along.
in april, bmw motorrad unveiled their wsbk entry to the public and one of the big questions that went unanswered was who was going to be piloting its teutonic terror. several riders were linked to the german marque but all has been quiet on the homefront… until this week. bmw motorrad announced that ruben xaus will be leading its first foray into world superbike championship next season. the second seat is unknown at the moment, however, troy corser is rumored to be on the short list.
currently, xaus is a mediocre 7th in the championship halfway through the season. he’s been inconsistent and prone to kiss the tarmac which makes bmw’s choice a little baffling. i pity the logistics coordinator.
apparently xaus has been very interested in the project since its inception:
“When I met the BMW guys, I was very impressed by their commitment, their passion for racing and their ideas about the future. We discussed how the WSBK project was going and I realised that I wanted to be a part of it straightaway. It is not often that you get the chance to start a completely new project, but I am really looking forward to the challenge.”
the switch to bmw ends xaus’ 7 yr relationship with ducati in which he was rumored to be a top candidate for troy bayliss’ seat in the factory team as he was the 2nd ducati in the championship.
bmw along with xaus are looking to surprise the wsbk paddock with top 10 finishes in its first year of competition. with the deep pockets and deep talent i won’t be betting against them.