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Speed of light

Ducati’s Superleggera V4 is its most powerful production road bike ever

Ducati has released its Superleggera V4 – the brand’s lightest, most powerful bike ever produced.

Limited to just 500 units, the V4 weighs in at just 152kg dry, yet pushes out 220bhp in standard form, or 230bhp when equipped with a track-only Akrapovic exhaust unit.

It’s the first road bike to benefit from a full carbon frame, with the front section and swingarm saving 2.4kg over the regular V4’s aluminium alloy chassis. A lighter Ohlins suspension system, with a pressurised fork and lighter machined aluminium fork bottoms, a titanium shock absorber spring and GP-derived valves help with the absorption of bumps in the road during the initial stage of compression.

Photos: PA Media


Three programmed riding modes are incorporated into the bike’s systems – Race A, Race B and Sport – which come alongside five additional modes which can be individually personalised to the rider’s desired settings.

Each bike gets an individual number and certificate of authenticity”

The brake system is taken care of by Brembo, with a new set of calipers exclusive to the V4 Superleggera.

Each bike gets an individual number and certificate of authenticity, while that number is also displayed on the frame, front yoke and the key. With just five bikes produced by Ducati per day – owing to the motorcycle’s complex construction – the Italian firm expects first deliveries to arrive in Europe this June. Upon buying a V4 Superleggera, owners will be offered the chance to ride the Panigale V4 R – which is used in the SBK World Championship – on a test track at Mugello.

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Good vibes

Mutt Motorcycles unveils new Super 4 with variety of retro styling

Birmingham-based Mutt Motorcycles has revealed its new retro-inspired Super 4.

Running a 4-stroke single-cylinder 125cc engine with around 10bhp and 10Nm of torque, the Super 4 is ideal for those in search of a bike with plenty of style, but enough punch for daily riding. Despite the relatively compact power unit, the Super 4 is still capable of hitting a 70mph top speed.

Photos: PA Media


It receives 18-inch knobbly tyres, a low-profile seat and a stainless-steel exhaust system, along with narrow chrome bars and black diamond pattern grips. A shortened rear aluminium mudguard has been included, too.

“Echoes the current movement of customising 1970s Japanese”

Benny Thomas, chief of customisation Mutt Motorcycles

Benny Thomas, chief of customisation for Mutt Motorcycles, said: “The styling idea behind the Super 4 was to create a bike that echoes the current movement of customising 1970s Japanese classics, except we want that feel straight out the gate without the headaches of working on old bikes. “The Super 4 paint is a custom slant on the 1970s factory paint jobs and of course the fat tyres, short aluminium mudguards and all the other parts that make up the Super 4 help give this little thumper a solid custom built vibe.”

Video: YouTube

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Lost lost

It is with great regret that I have to announce the sad loss of a genuine friend, companion, colleague, assistant, soul mate, and true love… my Vespa is being taken away from me. “It is all for the better” I have been told, but I still have to be convinced, can it ever get better than the Vespa?

When Franco at the Valley Road outlet of M. Demajo & Co. called me in to explain that the company had analysed the amount and type of mileage I was putting into my two-wheeled friend and had decided to let me experience a different model in their vast range of scooters, I could not hide my surprise, and sincere disappointment. Although this is not my first long-term experience with a scooter and last year I rode a Kymco Exciting 250 for 12 months, something seems to have changed, drastically!

Whereas before, the bike was there to test and write about, today I must admit that it has become an indispensable tool, a crucial clog in my daily routine. Let’s face it, using a bike turns the frustration of parking into a joke and makes traffic jams something you actually look forward to rather than dread. This, added to the savings on fuel and the overall excitement and fun each time you set off even on the most mundane journey, is reason enough to get addicted.

Having covered close to 4,000km in the few months that I have been running the Vespa, I have had the opportunity to experience every aspect of it in many different circumstances and can therefore give a reasonable account of my likes and dislikes, so I will start with the latter. When petrol was more expensive, a dry tank could take exactly €10, but since it became cheaper, it now only takes €7 to fill it to the brim.

This means that you cannot use the automated machines as the only one I know that takes €5 notes is in Naxxar and I would probably run out of fuel till I get there. Not that I am complaining about cheaper fuel, but you have to remember to fill up when the pumps are attended. The fuel inlet is located under the seat close to the under seat storage compartment and it is not the first time that a distracted attendant causes fuel to overflow resulting in the contents of the compartment smelling of petrol for ages.

Once on the subject of the compartment, another drawback of the Vespa is the limited storage space. The under seat compartment is designed to take two proprietary helmets, however the one I had on order never made it on time and since none of my Nolans fitted, I was forced to carry my helmet around with me.

The obvious option, which I pondered at length, was fitting a top box on the rear carrier. I acquired an original unit which was colour coded from the factory complete with a back-rest for the pillion in the same material as the seat, as well as replacement handlebars with added weights to compensate for the increase at the rear. I never got around to having it fitted primarily because I was afraid of losing the nimbleness and agility that I loved so much about the scooter.

One accessory that I did add was the set of chrome protection bars that also make the Vespa look great. I was a bit disappointed that the stoppers at the edges of the chrome piping started showing signs of corrosion, however these could easily be replaced. A rather more serious inconvenience is the fact that the bars can get slightly in the way of the pedal that you step on to operate the centre stand and this new obstacle takes some getting used to. The side stand is, in my opinion, superfluous and I hardly ever used it, opting for the steadier centre stand instead.

In reality, though, the Vespa is otherwise absolutely out of this world. First of all, it is a perfectly balanced scooter, giving the rider a constant sense of control and making you feel one with the machine. Handling is impressive and after some time, I found myself being able to balance on it without putting my foot on the ground even when virtually at a standstill.

cceleration is amazing and you literally fly off at the lights leaving the other vehicles fade in your rearview mirror. The 250cc unit propels the scooter to 140km/hr and beyond, and I realised that after the first service at 1,000km and progressively as I covered more mileage, the engine loosened up further, improving performance and reducing consumption. The latest calculations showed that the Vespa was covering 198km with €7 of petrol giving an average of over 26km/lt and I am convinced this figure will improve further.

Build and material quality is impeccable and the constant battering it endured at the mercy of Maltese roads proved what a durable bit of equipment the Vespa really is. It was 100 per cent reliable and apart from the mandatory first service, I never needed to give this aspect a second thought.

The Vespa’s class distinguishes itself from all other scooters. It is the ultimate fashion accessory with timeless classical styling, and whether stationery or in motion, people simply stop and stare. ­It is better as a weekend runabout than an everyday workhorse and there are a number of other more powerful models in the Piaggio Group’s range of scooters that will be better suited for overland travel. These were the primary reasons for the decision to move on to a new scooter and although I am truly sad to see the Vespa go, I am getting quite excited to see what is in store for me.

This article was first published on Times of Malta on May 4, 2009

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The Peregrine Falcon aka The Busa

This bird travels at over 200 km/hr and as a predator, feeds frequently on the common blackbird.

When it first came out in 1999, the task of this hyper sports bike from Suzuki was to out­perform what, at the time, was the fastest production bike in the world, the Honda CBR1100X or better known as the Blackbird. No prizes for guessing what the Japanese name for the Peregine Falcon is…

The first Hayabusa was powered by a 1298cc, four cylinder in line, liquid-cooled engine which remained mainly unchanged up until 2007. The figures were astounding: 156bhp, 0 to 60mph in 2.6 seconds, ¼ mile in 9.77 seconds reaching 147mph and a top speed of 190mph. However as from 2001, the performance on the standard bike was brought down a notch.

In 2008, the new Busa was fitted with a 1340cc, four cylinder developing a massive 197bhp. 0 to 60mph in 2.6 seconds, ¼ mile in 9.62 seconds and reaching a speed of 149.7mph and clocking a top sped of 190mph, breaking the 300km/hr barrier. The model I rode is the 2009 model that is identical, expect for the black/gold colour combination, which is a new option for the model year.

Suzuki have so far sold over 100,000 units of this incredible machine and the changes intro­duced have gone down well with the model loyals and bike fans in general.

The new GSX 1300 R comes with headlamps and fairing that are more aerodynamic, a standard double bubble windscreen which is half an inch higher and a similarly shaped tank which however is actually lower that the previous one to give the rider the opportunity to lie even lower behind the windshield when assuming a racing position.

It has retained the same wheelbase at 58.5 inches, however the overall bumper-to-bum­per length has increased by 2.3 inches. The new engine houses titanium valves, chrome-moly connecting rods and a new fuel-injection system giving 12 per cent improved performance. A larger oil-cooler and curved radiator improve cooling, while the 4-into-2 into 1-into-2 exhaust helps achieve Euro 3 emission standards. Massive acceleration and ferocious top speeds require proportionate stopping power, so the Busa is fitted with Dual Tokico Calipers pushing four pistons in front which have been paired to a smaller front disc, improving break performance whilst enabling quicker steering movement.

Top Suzukis are fitted with the S-DMS system whereby from a switch on the handlebar, the rider can opt between different riding con­ditions and the ECU will adjust its mapping accordingly.

In standard mode, the Hayabusa already boasts outstanding performance but the owner of the 2009 model I rode just could not get enough. He took the new machine to pieces and carried out every enhancement possible to boost performance further.

The bike was lengthened to give it better stability and refrain it from lifting at take-off. This is further achieved using a triple clamp and racing straps which lower the bike from the front. The front and rear chain sprockets have been changed to enhance acceleration and the entire exhaust system, from the manifold downwards, has been replaced but a Brooks racing unit. The bike is fitted with a state-of-the-art Power Commander and a special computer unit has been imported to give readings and enable the optimal programming of the ECU.

My favourite modification, though, was the air shifter that includes a flasher to indicate the optimal shifting moment and a system whereby, at the turn of a switch, the rider shifts gears sequentially by pressing the horn button.

Apart from the thrill that this incredible machine gives an adrenalin junkie like myself, it is also a mechanical masterpiece and this can seen from the incredible times that this bike is clocking at Ħal Far.

This article was first published on Times of Malta on April 6, 2009

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See it soon at Apple’s Eye

by TONIO DARMANIN

Having ridden a good number of bikes from the BMW range, I was interested in trying one of their smaller machines from the G series consisting of the G650 Xmoto, Xcountry and Xchallenge models. I had noticed a spanking new red and black Xmoto in the showroom and without delay, arrangements were made to take it out for the weekend.

With these smaller bikes from BMW, there are a number of things one needs to come to terms with. First of all, we are dealing with a 650cc single cylinder liquid-cooled engine designed by BMW that gives you a completely different riding experience from any of the other bikes the company produces. The three models are built on a steel bridge tubular frame chassis, they are chain driven and present a relatively high riding position.

The Xmoto is intended for street use, however it provides a dirtbike feeling and has an off-road driving position. The seat is narrow and the cushioning thin with sharp edges, so it does get a bit uncomfortable on long runs. However, the rider is free to slide forward and back at leisure without the traditional obstacle of the fuel tank which is located under the seat and not in front of it. This also lowers the bike’s centre of gravity. The riding position is upright and at 35.4 inches, it is perfect for a tall driver with a great view of the road ahead but the seat is also adjustable downwards to accommodate those under six feet tall.

The engine thumps smooth for a single cylinder, and quite a big one at that. It develops a respectable 53hp and produces a reasonable amount of torque. I was actually impressed with the throttle response and the lack of ‘knocking’ this type of engine often produces. Acceleration is decent and gearing well suited for frisky street riding.

The Xmoto is easy to manoeuvre through traffic and extremely capable at taking tight turns. The four-piston Brembo callipers pressing on 320mm discs with steel-braded brake lines sounds capable enough, however the model under test was fitted with an optional ABS system which makes breaking excellent. With 9.6 inches of travel on the single adjustable rear shock and 9.4 inches on the front inverted fork, you’re provided with a comfortable ride although you do get some dive in front when braking hard.

I got a real kick out of the Xmoto and consider it a brilliant daily runner, with a smooth engine, fantastic braking and a perfect ride on our imperfect roads. Easy to handle, agile and fast enough.

This article was first published on Times of Malta on March 2, 2009

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The beauty is also a beast

by TONIO DARMANIN

In the January issue, I reviewed the Honda VTX 1800 and, while admittedly this bike really impressed me, it had been a difficult decision in Gordon’s showroom to choose this above the Harley V Rod. On the other hand, Gordon’s reassuring smile that it was simply a matter of deciding which to ride first, made me return the VTX 1800 with a mixture of reluctance and great anticipation.

This whole biking adventure is developing nicely and, in a relatively short period of time, I have experienced a very wide range of different bikes and scooters, have made many numerous new friends and am really taking to the biker lifestyle.

One of the most common questions I get asked, apart from which my favourite car is, relates to my favourite bike. As with cars, I do go through the process so well described in the Maltese language “tara wahda u tinsa l-ohra” or in my case “issuq wahda u tinsa l-ohra”, however certain models do remain well impressed in my memory.

One such model was the Sportster, possibly more for the fact that this was my first Harley experience than for its impressive attributes, but impress me it did.

Many purists do not consider the V Rod to be a real Harley since it constitutes a complete break with tradition. It sports a water-cooled engine designed by Porsche, it is smooth, well constructed, it enjoys a futuristic designed and is very, very fast. This ‘shock’ creation came into existence in 2001 as the VRSC or V-Twin Racing Street Custom with an engine-based on the VR1000 super bike racing unit and aimed to compete against the muscle bike.

The V Rod is potentially one of the best looking bikes ever. Long, low and distinctively menacing, with a cruiser styling accentuated by the front fork protruding at 38% and holding in place a solid disc wheel matched with a similar one at the rear. The bike I rode was not an ordinary model but a special anniversary 2003 edition celebrating 100 years of Harley David­son building legendary motorcycles, charac­terised by an anodised aluminium finish and distinctive Harley insignia.

What I don’t like is the louvred air-intake between the tank and the headlamp that looks more like a cheap cheese grater than anything else. In true Harley tradition, the previous owner responsible for the 1,400km on the clock, before I got my hands on it that is, also put his personal touches to the machine including a Stage 1 tuning kit complete with Screamin’ Eagle exhaust.

“This ‘shock’ creation came into existence in 2001 as the VRSC or V-Twin Racing Street Custom with an engine-based on the VR1000 super bike racing unit and aimed to compete against the muscle bike”

The V-Twin, DOHC water-cooled, fuel injected Revolution engine is the one found in the original version of the V Rod manufactured between 2002 and 2006. The 1,130cc unit deve­lops an uncharacteristic 105bhp taking the Rod to a maximum speed of 135mph with tons of torque and a beautiful balance of power. It shifts between being a slow speed and laid back cruiser to a relentlessly powerful beast at the twist of the throttle.

Big bikes remain somewhat intimidating when one straddles them for the first time, but a few minutes on the V Rod were enough to make riding it an easy and pleasurable experience. Suspension is comfortable until one hits one of the deeper potholes that our roads invariably throw at us from time to time. Brembo breaking is brilliant and handling is fine but I would personally have wider handle bars fitted if I had to buy the bike, something I am seriously tempted to do.

To film the V Rod for the Paqpaq TV show, I met up with an old friend on his FatBoy on a bright Sunday morning and once we were done at the Vittoriosa Waterfront, we cruised up to Apple’s Eye where the bike attracted the admiration of one and all, not only Harley enthusiasts but also of those who normally prefer Japanese precision and performance to the American legend, proving that this model is managing to achieve what it was originally intended to do.

This article was first published on Times of Malta on February 9, 2009

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The Harley buster?

by TONIO DARMANIN

I had not been over to Gordon’s showroom for some time as the Christmas period was quite hectic and I had to content myself with buzzing around on my Vespa, riding more for convenience than for pleasure. So when I opened my diary and spotted the first commitment-free Sunday morning, I made my way to the Valley Road ‘Mecca’ in search of something thrilling… I was in desperate need of a serious biking ‘fix’.

The showroom was nicely full, with an unusual bias on larger bikes forming part of the last consignment to be registered under the old system before the crazy new taxation on bikes over 800cc came into effect on 1st January this year. I was looking for a big, powerful cruiser with which I could spend the early hours of Sunday morning riding away the pressure and stress that life invariably piles onto you, to eventually meet the group of like-minded bikers at Cirkewwa and Apple’s Eye where we exchange intimate secrets on our two-wheeled lovers and try to solve the problems of the world over a coffee.

The choice was difficult. Instinctively, I was attracted to an immaculate Harley V-Rod but ultimately I opted for the meaner, wilder and less common VTX 1800. The praises of this bike had been sung no end by my friend Edwin Bonello who has been riding the only other 1800 known to me for some three years and the prospect of experiencing this bike thrilled me, even before I actually started it up.

This amazing cruiser was first introduced in 2002 and, at the time, it had the largest displacement V-Twin production engine on the market with four inch pistons making them the widest fitted in any vehicle, car or bike. The massive engine fills every inch of space between the tank and the lower frame and growls menacingly to life when you start it from the rather oddly located ignition behind the rider’s left leg.

The styling is long, low and muscular and Honda managed to create a bike with equal doses of power, beauty and grace. A uniquely- styled headlamp, a sleek tank and a beautifully cut rear mudguard give the bike looks to die for, distorted only by the sissy bar which remained in place only because I knew that, sooner or later, I would sadly have to return the bike.

The power is impressive but the torque is awesome, delivered to the wide rear wheel via a shaft with smoothness unlike any V-twin I had previously ridden. A twist of the right wrist sends the bike lunging forward with the panache of a cruiser but with the wickedness of a racing bike. Reserves of power are at the rider’s disposal on any gear, from any speed. Although the model I tested did not come with ABS, it was fitted with a unique braking system whereby the hand brake activates two thirds of the front pistons, while the foot brake operates all the rear pistons as well as one third of the front ones making braking balanced and efficient.

The seat is amongst the most comfortable I have come across and this is matched with good suspension… contributing to a great ride. The driving position is brilliant. An interesting experience for me was the sensation of my feet being gently lifted off the forward pegs as my trouser legs filled up with wind when accelerating rapidly. The long, low stance of the bike reduces ground clearance substantially so one has to be careful with certain ramps and might have some difficulty, for example, getting the bike onto a jack.

Although obviously not the most fuel-efficient bike, the VTX 1800’s fuel con­sumption is reasonably contained at around 40 miles per gallon giving it an autonomy of around 200 miles. This is particularly imp­ortant if (or should I say when!!) one starts planning an overseas trip with this bike because it is only here that one can truly appreciate its full potential.

I can only confirm whether this American-built powerful cruiser from Honda is a Harley beater once I have spent some time riding the V-Rod that Gordon has in the showroom, something I need to do soon before it finds its rightful owner. In the meantime, I must confess that the VTX1800 is one of the finest and most exhilarating bikes I have ridden to date as well as one of the better looking ones… so for the Harley to beat it, it is going to be difficult.

This article was first published on Times of Malta on January 19, 2009

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Truly unstoppable!

by TONIO DARMANIN

Yet another breathtaking adventure! Riding one of the greatest new bikes available on the market today and doing so in one of the best biking destinations. To my knowledge, not many bikers have actually ridden in the UK. Some have rented bikes in London and went off on a tour and few others have actually ridden all the way to the UK from Malta but the effort, time and stamina needed makes this an option restricted to the truly adventurous.

I have a special relationship with this model as the R 1150 GS was my first “big” bike just after getting my bike licence and still ride it on a regular basis. It was also my first bike review for the TV show and therefore marks an important milestone for Paqpaq. Having become quite familiar with this truly successful machine from BMW, I have been longing to test the completely new model.

The bike for this test was made available by Vines, the BMW Motorrad dealer in Guilford, London, and my destination was Stratford-upon-Avon. Even in the middle of summer, if you are going to ride in the UK you will have to seriously consider your clothing. Obviously, safety is of primary importance so a good quality full-face helmet, protective jacket and pants, riding boots and gloves are essential.

Apart from this, the chances of rain are rather high and therefore a set of waterproofs are also advisable. The laws of probability being what they are, half way through the three hundred mile trip it did start to drizzle and eventually rained heavily. However, being well prepared, this only added to the challenge and excitement. Rain also highlights the situation with the condition of our roads in comparison with those found in most European countries.

The water that hits the highway seems to disappear and the adherence of the tyres to the road surface remains perfect, even in heavy rain – I wish I could say the same of the roads in Malta.

This bike is described by BMW as a Travel Enduro and was popularised by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman, through their incredible voyages using the Adventure version of this bike, to the extent that it became the best selling motorcycle over 1,000cc. This is not the brand’s best touring option, the R 1200 LT is the Rolls Royce of touring bikes, but it is hardly practical for anything else, while on the other hand, the acclaimed (Henry’s Bike) is a fantastic long-distance bike and at the same time is also versatile, agile and particularly fast making it possibly the best sport-tourer available.

It is therefore difficult to identify the typical customer for this bike, obviously it is perfect for the adventurer who intends riding half-way around the world on back-tracks but how many bikers would be realistically planning to do this? The way I see it, it is a bit like the situation with luxury off-road vehicles such as the Range Rover sport, the Audi Q7 and BMW’s own X5 all of which are extremely capable off-road vehicles but non of them actually ever leave the tarmac and are used mainly to ferry children to and from school. In the same way, the R 1200 GS will rarely venture into the wilderness but will generally be used as a fun bike for weekend riding and the occasional overland venture.

It definitely has the looks. Massive, aggressive and dominant, combined with the fact that the horizontally opposed boxer engine protrudes noticeably from either side of the bike, it actually looks daunting to someone considering riding it for the first time. In reality, the bike has a relatively low centre of gravity making it stable, well-balanced and surprisingly easy to handle. The engine is now tuned to 105bhp and increased punch and power are more than evident.

The previous models were criticised for their gearboxes which many considered clunky and often caused a bit of a struggle when shifting. This has been solved because BMW have fitted a brilliant new 6-speed box offering improved smoothness for precise shifting and more dynamic transmission ratios. I noticed that once you exceed 5,000 revs, something which the M25 does allow even though one has to be particularly vigilant due to the ever growing number of speed cameras, the engine offers that additional trust which comes in handy, particularly when overtaking. The ABS braking system provides the necessary reassurance that the bike will stop as and when required with the added benefit the wheels will not lock with less chance of skidding.

As is happening with all its motor vehicles, BMW is at the forefront of technological innovation even when it comes to bikes. The technology on this bike is mind-boggling in terms of sophistication but so user-friendly that even I could handle it first go. Basically you have a computer on board and through one switch on the handle-bar, the rider makes certain selections. The optional Electronic Suspension Adjustment, as it is referred to, requires input as to whether there is going to be a solo rider, if there is a pillion and if the bike is going to be loaded with luggage.

The system distinguishes between on- or off-road journeys and also allows the rider to select between Sport, Normal or Comfort riding. All this information is then used by the system to adjust the suspension of the bike to achieve optimum performance, comfort and safety.

A truly great all-rounder that lent itself to different landscapes I came across on this first, but by no means last, biking trip to the UK. The R1200GS has the looks, talent and robustness to give you the confidence to venture.

This article was first published on Times of Malta on September 1, 2008

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A Gixxer for the wrong reason

In my quest to experience as many different types of bikes as possible, I knew that sooner or later I would have to confront one breed of bike that posed a particular challenge – the 1-litre Sport Bike.

There were a number of options including the Honda CBR1000R, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and the Yamaha R1, all of which were available but my choice fell on the 2008 Gixxer, the Suzuki GSX-R100 (K8).

Exactly why I made this choice is still unclear, possibly because I had such a good experience riding the GSX1400, but walking towards the bike was the closest I will ever feel to a cowboy about to mount a wild buck in an attempt to break it in.

This was not the most powerful bike I had ridden in terms of cc but peaking at 160bhp, developing 110Nm of torque, a red line set at 12,000, accelerating from 0-100km/hr in just 3 seconds, covering a quarter mile in 10.3 seconds and reaching a maximum speed of 182 mph, it was surely the most ferocious. As if this was not enough, this specific bike had been fitted with a power commander set to give it even better straight line acceleration and had the standard titanium exhaust replaced by an Akrapovic after-market unit.

The design is influenced by its bigger sibling, the Hayabusa, and comes with LED tail lights, and a trapezoid shaped radiator as seen on works race bikes intended to make cooling more efficient. Front and rear suspension are fully adjustable and rebound dampers help to improve handling whilst a secondary balancer shaft works at reducing vibration.

The use of radial mounted 4 pot callipers gripping 12 inch discs brought weight down by 2,300g without effecting efficiency and a single piston presses on an 8.7 inch disc at the rear. A standard slipper clutch helps avoid wheel hopping under heavy braking and aggressive down shifting does not result in he rear wheel blocking.

The 32 bit ECU has been configured to offer the rider three distinct mappings that can be selected from a switch on the handle bar. In fact, one can choose from standard, sport and wet mode and the bike will adjust according to the particular driving conditions. An electronically controlled steering damper stiffens as the bike accelerates, making it more controllable at high speeds.

This model first appeared in 2001 and has undergone constant development to make it faster and lighter, whilst improving its handling. Initially, the power is overwhelming but one soon realises what near-perfect throttle response the machine is endowed with, making you the master of your own destiny. Weighing in at a mere 170kg, handling is particularly easy.

Describing the driving position as sporty is an understatement and is not what I would voluntarily spend many hours in. I did not find the seat particularly comfortable either, but I knew this was going to be the case from the outset, before I even mounted it. I must admit that I am not of the sport bike kind. I appreciate the performance and capabilities of the GSX-R1000 and look forward to riding its rivals to be able to compare.

However, when it comes to personal preferences, I do not consider this type of bike as ideal for Malta. The state of the roads, the attitude of other road users and the insane power the bike disposes of add up to a lethal concoction. I would personally opt for a more tranquil, serene and comfortable ride.

This article was first published on Times of Malta on August 4, 2008

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