Deus Ex Machina Motorcycles

Yamaha SR400 custom by Deus Ex Machina

There’s an Australian motorcycle shop by the name of Deus Ex Machina that is guaranteed to make you feel a bit slighted by the Japanese manufacturers. You see, in Australia, it seems they can purchase brand new Kawasaki W650s and Yamaha SR400s (W650s? I didn’t know that!). And just to rub salt in the wound, Deus Ex Machina takes these bikes, along with a few Triumphs and Sportsters, and turns them into some of the nicest custom cafe racers and street trackers you could possibly hope for. Subtle, not over done, just right. If you liked Bratstyle, you’ll really like these guys.

The SR400 can be ordered in a variety of configurations from the Stage 1 Rocker or Stage 2 Custom to a Stage 3 Manx or Grievous Angel. Each one has a style that would stand out on bike night and look great on the road but, of course, unless you dig up an old one on eBay, you can’t build one of these. The same goes for all of the variations of the W650.

Yamaha SR400s are very popular in Japan and Europe and in Australia, too, it seems, but according to some folks these would not sell in the U.S. No one would want a nice, light, easy handling motorcycle that can be customized into a gorgeous little cafe racer. Absolutely no one and it would be really hard to start selling them here because they would have to ship some over here along with the rest of the bikes already coming over. How could they do that? It’s probably way too much trouble. … Right.

You know, we could make a pretty big list of all of the cool bikes sold elsewhere that someone has decided couldn’t possibly sell here. How hard would it be for the Japanese manufacturers to try re-introducing a few models and see what happens. Bikes like the SR400 have a huge aftermarket overseas. If someone were to set up a custom shop selling bikes here like Deus does in Australia, just see what would happen. What could it hurt?

Deus Ex Machina looks like a very interesting place and the fellows involved have been around motorcycles for quite some time. I received several tips about them over the last few weeks. Thanks, Aaron (who was first) and everyone else!

Yamaha SR400 custom by Deus Ex Machina

Yamaha SR400 custom by Deus Ex Machina

Blastard by GS Motor Company

Blastard by GS Motor Company

Over the last few days we’ve been talking about all of the small displacement motorcycles being imported and modified in countries all over the world, except in the USA. Well, there is a small displacement affordable bike available for modification here, the 500cc Buell Blast and Greg Socha’s GS Motor Company has one example of what you might do with it, it’s called the Blastard.

It’s pretty basic and clean with a lot of old style touches. The only brake is up front and it’s a mechanical drum. Like the customs from Japan, it’s not over done and like those bikes, it stands out with its simplicity.

It’s easy to look at the Yamaha SR and similar bikes not available here and get frustrated. The other option is to look at what we do have here and come up with custom solutions based on those bikes instead. Greg did a nice job. It may not be exactly what some of us had in mind when looking at the bikes from Deus or Bratstyle but on the other hand, if more builders look at the Blast as a source for an engine and parts, maybe a few other creations would be even better.

We’ve seen a few Blast customs here before, maybe more builders should give this bike a second look.

Blastard by GS Motor Company

Yamaha R1 Girder Front Suspension

Yamaha R1 with girder front suspension from R1 Engineering

Girder front suspensions are pretty much as old as motorcycles and you see them on custom bikes all the time but not very often on sportbikes. This Yamaha R1 streetfighter from R1 Engineering is being fitted with a girder setup and it looks pretty neat.

There’s no reason this shouldn’t work great and it will be interesting to see the finished bike.

Roland Sands 450 SuperSingle

Roland Sands 450 SuperSingle road racer - LA Times photo

We first mentioned Roland Sands’ dirt bike based road racer last year and after several months of work it looks like they’re almost ready for prime time. There are 3 versions, a Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki, each based on a 450cc dirt bike and then reskinned and reequipped for road racing.

Sands will be offering the Yamaha as a complete ready to race motorcycle, the Honda and Kawasaki will be available as kits. Price of the Yamaha is $14,999. He’s planning to build about 30 and the first one should be ready within days.

The 60 horsepower racers weigh only 250 pounds and have a top speed around 130 mph. They are aimed at an entry level road racing class where the power is manageable and the handling is excellent. If the class takes off and there is a lot of interest, there could be a possibility of a street legal version in the future.

I also found a very interesting line in this LA Times article:

For Sands, it’s an opportunity to distinguish himself from the mobs of custom builders that have surfaced in recent years and re-brand himself as the designer of high-concept, high-performance motorcycles.

Six Brittens at 25th Sound of Thunder Anniversary

6 Brittens at the 25th Sound of Thumder anniversary in New Zealand

It isn’t every day you see 6 Britten motorcycles lined up together, in fact, you simply never see that, period. Well, maybe just this once. Last weekend was the 25th anniversary meeting of the Sound of Thunder - BEARS racing (British European American Racing Society) in New Zealand. Tim, one of our Kiwi readers, mentioned the gathering in a comment on another post and I asked him if he might have some photos of the event. He found these and sent them along. Here’s what he said in his comment:

Yep, I was out at Ruapuna on Sunday. It was the 25th anniversary meeting of the “Sound of Thunder.” BEARS racing (British European American Racing Society) was invented in Christchurch in New Zealand and their first meeting was in 1983. John Britten was one of the original people involved IIRC, and the the Estate had a display there to celebrate that. … There was a Ducati powered first attempt and the Denco powered second attempt, and three slightly different versions of the V1000.

John Britten is so well known for the design and development of his motorcycles and it is so often repeated, … what might he have built had he lived longer. Unfortunately, we’ll never know, but these bikes are a great example of his work.

6 Brittens at the 25th Sound of Thumder anniversary in New Zealand

6 Brittens at the 25th Sound of Thumder anniversary in New Zealand

6 Brittens at the 25th Sound of Thumder anniversary in New Zealand

6 Brittens at the 25th Sound of Thumder anniversary in New Zealand

American IronHorse Facing Bankruptcy

American IronHorseCreditors are trying to force American IronHorse into bankruptcy after it failed to make any payments since January. Investors are currently negotiating to buy the company.

Some American IronHorse dealers have stated they will not sell bikes in stock due to questions about warranty coverage.

Honda DN-01 Sales Begin March 7th in Japan

Honda DN-01

For everyone who is waiting for the Honda DN-01 to arrive, it’s coming March 7th, … to Japan. No word on when and where it will be available next. The 61 horsepower 680cc fuel injected V-twin engine drives the infinitely variable hydraulic mechanical Human-Friendly Transmission (HFT). It’s equipped with a single sided swingarm and shaft drive. 17 inch wheels on both ends. It comes with combined ABS and a parking brake.

Highlights of the Honda press release follow:

The HFT responds to a wide variety of rider demands, from easy-to-operate, comfortable riding to sporty and nimble ride quality with a direct response to accelerator operation, due to the hydraulics and computer control. In addition to two fully automatic shifting modes—D mode to cover ordinary riding and S mode for a sportier riding experience—the HFT features a six-speed manual mode, which allows riding with a manual transmission feel. Moreover, the HFT equips the world’s first lockup mechanism for an infinitely variable hydraulic mechanical transmission, contributing to improved fuel economy during cruising.

To suit DN-01’s unique styling, the four colors of variations are set, exhibiting a sense of luxury and complete satisfaction for its ownership: Pearl Sunbeam White, Pearl Amethyst Purple, Candy Glory Red and Graphite Black.

The DN-01 features the Honda Ignition Security System (H.I.S.S.), Honda’s unique anti-theft system using an electronic interlock. The device is programmed to start the engine when the IC chip built into the original key and the ID in the ECU of motorcycle matches. Otherwise, the system prevents the engine from being started, providing effective protection.

Furthermore, an original system has been established for the DN-01 to provide a higher quality service. This new system functions with DN-01 dealer information network to manage the service history of the customer’s machine. To reference authentication data of the machine from the network, the information is stored on a RF-ID which is built into the main key of its machine called, Honda Motorcycle Data (HMD) key. By showing this HMD key to the DN-01 dealer, the machine’s service history and information are available instantly through this system, allowing Honda to provide even higher level of service that will also lead to a higher customer satisfaction.

Honda DN-01


Model Name
Model Type
L×W×H (m) 2.320×0.835×1.115
Wheelbase (m) 1.610
Ground Clearance (m) 0.130
Seat Height (m) 0.690
Vehicle Weight (kg) 269
Number of Riders
Fuel Consumption (km/l) 25.0 (60km/h constant-speed test value)
Minimum Turning Radius (m) 3.2
Engine Type
RC55E liquid-cooled four-stroke 4-valve OHC V-twin
Displacemen (cm3) 680
Bore × Stroke (mm) 81.0×66.0
Compression Ratio
Maximum Power Output (kW[PS]/rpm) 45 [61] / 7,500
Maximum Torque (N·m[kg·m]/rpm) 64 [6.5] / 6,000
PGM-FI (programmed fuel injection)
Fully transistorized, battery-powered
Force-fed and splash
Fuel Tank Capacity (l) 15
Oil pressure regulator system in gearbox
(with lock-up mechanism)
Hydraulic mechanical system
(HFT with electric manual mode)
Gear Ratio
Reduction gear ratio (primary/secondary) 1.136/4.196
Caster Angle (degrees) / Trail (mm) 28°30′/110
Tire size Front 130/70ZR17 M/C(62W)
Rear 190/50ZR17 M/C(73W)
Braking System Front Hydraulic double disc
Rear Hydraulic disc
Suspension Front Telescopic
Rear Swing arm
Frame Double cradle

Randakk’s Honda GL1000 Supercharger

Randakk's supercharger

A few months ago I mentioned Randall Washington’s supercharger kit being developed for the Honda GL1000 / GL1100 Gold Wing. I thought it looked interesting and I checked back to see how things were going. Everything looked pretty good, great components, high quality work and it’s finished and on the road. Unfortunately, he is not going to produce it for sale because, quite simply, it would cost too much. He says it would be $5700 at best and this kind of kit at that price for a bike this old probably would not do very well in the market. That may well be true and it’s the same kind of thing that happens to many projects like this, great products and very high quality but after you build one, you’re done.

You have to wonder if there’s a way to bring something like this to market. We often point out custom cafe racers or kits for various bikes built to high standards but as soon as the builder puts a price on it that reflects the cost of components and all of the time designing and sorting it out, everyone thinks it’s too expensive, as though a low volume builder can price things in the same way as a Honda or Yamaha. It seems not every cool project is a profitable product.

Hercules W2000 Rotary Engine Motorcycle

Hercules W2000 rotary engine motorcycle

Once in a while a Hercules W2000 Rotary shows up for sale but they’re often in pretty bad shape, whether for lack of parts or knowledge of how to fix it. I spotted this one for sale on eBay and it looks to be in very good condition, according to the owner he had it completely restored.

The Hercules was only built from October 1974 to November 1975. 1784 were built and the leftovers were sold each successive year as that year’s model, right up until 1979. The early ones had a gas and oil mix, the later ones used oil injection. The Hercules was one of only a few rotary engine motorcycles to make it to market, the Suzuki RE5 being another as well as the very limited Norton John Player Specials.

Interesting bikes but except for Mazda and a few one offs, rotary engines never seemed to go anywhere.

Derbi DH 2.0 - Motorcycle Mountain Bike Concept

Derbi DH 2.0 concept motorcycle mountain bike

Derbi DH 2.0 concept motorcycle mountain bikeIf you remember Project M85 Freeride, you’ll see the same idea in this new concept bike from Derbi, the Derbi DH 2.0, a mountain bike sized motorcycle with a small engine and very light weight. It has fuel in frame like a Buell, an automatic transmission, a 100cc air cooled 4 stroke engine, underseat exhaust, inverted fork, air monoshock out back and a dry weight of 88 pounds! That’s a lot closer to mountain bike weight than motorcycle. The DH in the name refers to downhill mountain biking. (They explain even the brand name Derbi originates from DERived from BIcycle. I didn’t know that!) And if I read things correctly, the engine can even be quickly dismounted for a fast downhill with less weight.

This is a pretty high tech little machine which also shows the guys who built Project M85 Freeride might be on to something. Cool.

SUB 3 Wheeler with Suzuki power

SUB 3 Wheeler
Three fellows, working at the GM design studio in southern California had a plan. Their goal was minimal weight, distributed 50/50 front and rear including driver, compact dimensions and great handling, with aesthetic appeal and overall efficient design. The result is the SUB 3 Wheeler, powered by a Suzuki TL1000R V twin engine situated next to the driver. They wanted a canyon carver not a drag racer and that’s what they built.

The SUB has a handbuilt TIG welded frame, a fiberglass body and three wheels with motorcycle tires. Most 3 wheelers these days have some version of car tires, the motorcycle tires gave them the right contact patch area distribution and weight distribution while limiting frontal area. Their choice was a version of Avon’s cruiser tires.

They used an array of high tech tools beginning with the computer models, CNC machining to create the reusable molds and even used some rapid prototyping. The SUB weighs 750 pounds and has 120 horsepower which translates into a lot of fun.

They’re considering a limited production run of 25 priced at $80,000 with $25,000 down. This may seem a bit steep but everything on this 3 wheeler is custom made, even the wheels and there are custom choppers out there that cost a lot more. Pretty neat.

SUB 3 Wheeler

Volkswagen GX3 at LA Auto Show

Volkswagen GX3
Here’s another 3 wheeler, there seem to be so many these days. This concept, shown at the LA Auto Show and built by Volkswagen, is powered by a 1.6 liter 125hp 4 cylinder engine. 0 to 62.5mph (100kmh) is in 5.7 seconds and is said to pull 1.25 lateral g’s! Very nice. They say a production version could be on the market soon, depending on feedback. Projected price is under $17,000. Now just as a comparison, the SUB 3 Wheeler mentioned yesterday has a price of $80,000. Hmm …

Full press release follows:

WOLFSBURG, Germany and LOS ANGELES, Jan. 4 /CNW/ - In a world premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen presents the GX3 - a completely new type of motorcycle. The GX3 was conceived by the Moonraker team and VW’s Design Center in California, exclusively with the U.S. in mind, to bring an exciting idea to a fully functioning concept. With its three wheels and unique design,this Volkswagen opens up a new driving dimension.

A motorcycle with VW features: Light, fast, and environmentally friendly, the GX3 shows that conceptually it is much closer to a motorcycle than to a classic type automobile. This two-seater Volkswagen is one of a kind — bold, young, and affordable. It opens a new driving dimension, turns even the daily commute to work into a small trip to freedom, allows you to cruise in the carpool lane, even if you’re driving solo (the GX3 is a motorcycle, after all!) and with its keen handling it opens up completely new horizons for recreational driving.

Amazing dynamics for less than US$17,000: The GX3 will be driven by a VW 1.6 liter engine. The four-cylinder delivers 92 kW/125 hp. So far, so good. However, the GX3 is a pure driving machine, a motorcycle with two seats positioned side-by-side. And that’s why you can find 125 hp and 112.5 ft-lbs (152 Nm) in a mere 1,257 lbs (570 kg) Volkswagen. This results in a power-to-weight ratio of 10 lbs/hp 4.56 kg/PS). In just 5.7 seconds, the GX3 can reach a speed of 62.5 mph (100 km/h) and the possible lateral acceleration reaches 1.25g - values typical of sheer performance cars but delivered from a vehicle under the US$17,000 price range. No comparable sports machine in the world, however, can come even close to the low fuel consumption of the GX3: 46 mpg. Fact is: a production counterpart of the GX3, could be on the market very soon. It all depends on the American driver’s feedback.

Tradition of the exceptional: Conceptually and visually the Volkswagen GX3 differs from anything currently on the roads in the U.S. And that’s a tradition at Volkswagen. It was with exceptional and unique products — today all of them legends — that Volkswagen propelled itself to the top in the USA during the 50’s and 60’s. Whether the Beetle, the Thing (Type 181) or the Microbus, all were the cult cars of their time and still are. In 2006, with the GX3, Volkswagen once again presents something totally unexpected and exceptional, a VW in every sense. VW - Being different.

Moonraker: The GX3 was designed in close collaboration between VW’s Design Center California (DCC) and an international, cross-functional group of young engineers, designers, manufacturing and marketing experts, also based in California. The team started its work in the US in early 2005. The job: To convert the wishes, dreams and needs of American drivers into mobility. The goal: highest possible customer satisfaction. Background: In addition to the models developed in Germany and sold in the US, in the future Volkswagen will be building more models catering especially to the needs and requirements of U.S. customers. One of the most dramatic and tangible early results of Moonraker: the GX3. Responsible for the design of the new Volkswagen is the Volkswagen Design Studio in Santa Monica. The team there will be working in the future in close cooperation with the product strategy staffs in the U.S. The GX3 offers a look into the exciting and comprehensive spectrum of totally new motor vehicles which are currently being conceptualized by Volkswagen of America for the US market.

Design dynamics: The focus for Volkswagen’s design team in California was to create a quintessential and pure driving machine. Inspired by the minimalist design language often expressed in contemporary GP motorcycles and F1 race cars, the GX3 has a true feeling of authenticity. These influences are seen throughout the exterior with an exposed single sided swing arm, aggressive central exhaust, open front wheels and stealthy matte finishes. The progressive dynamic on the GX3 is emphasized with a strong graphic dividing the body as it wraps up to the aggressive forward leaning roll hoops. Anodized gold and black suspension components and LED lighting are further examples of track inspired designs. The GX3 interior is all about business with nothing to distract from the absolute driving experience. The driver’s cockpit is equipped with five point racing harnesses; “moto” style instruments and a GTI inspired stainless shifter. Most distinctly, the rear boasts a massive single 18″x12″ back wheel dressed with 315 rubber. The front end proudly displays a bold V graphic consistent with Volkswagen’s vehicle lineup, most notably the GTI. The GX3 in no way denies that it is a motorcycle, but rather plays it up as a unique design advantage.

Space-Frame: The basic structure of this driving machine is formed by a high-density, warp-resistant, steel construction space frame. The paneling of the interior and exterior parts of the space frame is made of high density fiberglass. A 2.83 tf3 (80 l) trunk is located behind the seats.

Advanced chassis: The 215/45 R17×8J front wheels are controlled by a double lateral steering axle. While the front axle resembles the layout of an automobile, the rear axle shows more parallels to a motorcycle. The right side of the vehicle also makes use of a monoswing arm. The engine’s power is delivered via 6-speed transmission and chain drive to the rear wheel, which has a tire size of 315/30 R18×12J — a new super bike dimension. And that suits the GX3. A Volkswagen that breaks away from the conventions and that
redefines driving fun and freedom of mobility.

Volkswagen GX3

Ultralight Flying Scooter

Ultralight Flying ScooterYou, too, can “slip the surly bonds of earth” with this Honda Ruckus scooter and powered paraglider combination. The Ultralight Flying Scooter folks will sell you this add on kit for your 2006 Honda Ruckus giving it the ability to fly.

I actually came across this last year but the web site had no actual photos or video showing it in the air so I was a little reluctant to call it a flying scooter. Well, they have photos and video now proving it flies so here it is.

How practical is it? How well does it fly? Although it gets off the ground it might be a bit on the edge of practical. If you want a powered paraglider there have been kits available for some years. The web site says you shouldn’t drive the scooter down the road with the flight kit attached so what have you gained? If you have to transport the flight kit separately to some suitable takeoff and landing area you still need an extra vehicle so this isn’t exactly something Lara Croft would use to get away from the bad guys, firing up the engine, unfurling the canopy and flying off. I would also think a normal paraglider performs better without the weight of the scooter.

If you look at this for what it is, the culmination of someone’s desire to make a flying scooter and then going into his workshop to prove it can be done, it appears to be a success. If you’re looking for a practical flying scooter (isn’t everyone?), I’d wait.

Honda Gold Wing powered GRX

Honda GRX with Goldwing power
Another design in the Michelin Challenge Design 2006 is this entry from Honda. The GRX is powered by the 1500cc six cylinder engine used in the Honda Gold Wing. (Thanks, Aaron, for pointing that out.) We like motorcycle powered cars a lot here at The Kneeslider, and this is an example of what happens when you put the corporate design team to work on the idea.

For some time now, Honda has been coming out with designs and developments in a huge number of areas. Their Asimo robot which is adding more and more capability all the time, the FCX hydrogen fuel cell car which they are saying may be produced in three or four years which works along with their HES or Home Energy Station that makes hydrogen from natural gas while also providing heat and electricity for your home, they showed up at Oshkosh with their HondaJet, their new DN-01 motorcycle shown in Tokyo which looks close to production, the new Gold Wing equipped with the first production motorcycle airbag system; this is a company that is breathtaking in its transportation technology diversity which at the same time all works together in a synergistic fashion. Any one of these developments is worthy of note in its own right, together they make up an extremely impressive list. Go, Honda.

Custom Vmax with R1 Ducati and Triumph parts

Custom Vmax
With all of the new Vmax talk, it’s interesting to see what current owners are doing to the originals. Cruising through the ebay listings I came across this custom Yamaha Vmax and I kinda like it.

The owner installed a Triumph single sided swingarm along with the Triumph wheel and connected it to a chain drive conversion. A Ducati Monster tank was reshaped so the Vmax scoops fit to the sides and the hinge was retained so it lifts up just like on a Monster for access to the carbs and battery. It also includes the Monster seat and Tail section.

The fork is an inverted R1 setup including the brakes. There’s a Buell headlight and windscreen, a Stage 7 K&N kit, SuperTrapp race can and a long list of other mods.

There have been a lot of attempts to make the Vmax into a sportbike or a standard that has better all around performance than the basic Max and this is a nice move in that direction. The nicest thing about this setup is you have a standard with the right sound, nothing like a Vmax with a good pipe!

Considering the number of Vmax fans that come by The Kneeslider, as well as the fact that I’m partial to Mr Max myself, I thought this was worth a look.

Cyclone Y40R 2.0 liter V8

Cyclone V8Here’s a sweet looking 2 liter V8 called the Cyclone Y40R. Specs on the website are 302 horsepower, 167 foot pounds at 8500rpm and 108 foot pounds at only 2000 rpm. This is with a standard carb setup and they have photos of a fuel injected version but no power figures yet. It looks similar in size to the Hayabusa V8 with a bit less power.

The web site has very little information so beyond what I’ve mentioned, it’s a bit sketchy. They show the engine installed in a sort of Lotus or Caterham type car called the Quantum Extreme, and speak in general terms about the whole project.

How long has this engine existed? Is this old news or a brand new small displacement V8? Guess we’ll have to follow up a bit to see what it’s all about. If you have more information on this company or project, fill us in.

Honda Monpal ML200 4-Wheel Scooter

Honda Monpal ML200Honda has just introduced a 4 wheel electric scooter, a personal mobility vehicle for those who have a difficult time getting around. If you’ll recall, we mentioned Yamaha was going into the electric wheelchair market because of its potential for huge profits but it looks like Honda has an entry ready to go now. As Yamaha said earlier, the motorcycle market in Japan is actually declining and manufacturers are looking for alternate products to take up the slack. It will be sold through specified power sport and motorcycle dealers.

The Monpal is an electric vehicle which is classified by law in Japan as a pedestrian so they must drive on the sidewalk and are not required to have a driver’s license. What is interesting here is the level of technology displayed by Honda, this is by no means what people think of when the term “electric wheelchair” is used, headlights and side marker lights, rearview mirrors and sophisticated suspension, and I suspect we’ll see more of this as the boomer population ages and companies like Honda and others diversify to serve that market.

Press Release:

Honda Monpal ML200TOKYO, Japan, January 23, 2006 – Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has announced the release of the new Monpal ML200, a stylish 4-wheel scooter with a comfortable ride and high maneuvering stability that delivers easy, carefree operation. The new Monpal will be available throughout Japan starting Wednesday, March 15 at specified Honda power product and motorcycle dealers that offer Monpal products.

With a compact overall width of just 595mm and a front fender that makes it easy to see the direction and motion of the front wheel from the driver’s seat, the Monpal ML200 offers a slim, smart package with outstanding maneuverability. The specially developed suspension keeps the tires firmly in contact with the ground even over minor sidewalk gradations, to continually maintain a comfortable, stable ride. Furthermore, a high-output, brushless motor and newly developed, high-efficiency control system achieve top-class hill climbing stamina with very little speed loss on uphill slopes and 25km of continuous operation on a single battery charge, along with smoother starting, stopping and handling.

The design features a slim, nimble form and distinctive U-shaped pillar design that gives firmly protected feeling to the driver. Also, for the first time in a commercial vehicle, the Monpal ML200 employs the LONG visibility enhancement design developed using cerebral functioning analysis and adapted from the Honda ASV-3 advanced safety research vehicle, to ensure improved driver visibility.

Hotrodhawg - Harley Powered Roadster

Hotrodhawg - Harley Powered Roadster
Here’s the latest in the ever growing collection of motorcycle powered cars. The Hotrodhawg is an open wheel two seat roadster powered by a Harley Davidson V twin engine. The tube chassis is covered with a fiberglass body, there’s a 3 speed automatic transmission with overdrive and an 8 gallon fuel tank for a total weight of 1350 pounds. I think it looks sharp however I’m not sure what the performance will be with the Harley engine, no numbers are given, but with the relatively light weight and the torque available from the V twin, it might make for a very enjoyable cruise.

On the dealer website, price is $29,000 without the engine which then makes me wonder if the 1350 weight figure is for a no engine roller you assemble yourself. Nice looker, though.

Buell XBRR

Buell XBRRBuell is building a factory racer for Formula Xtreme. The non street legal racer has been designed and purpose built to compete with the other teams at the highest levels. Specs are 150 horsepower from the 1339cc V twin, 362 pounds, five speed, chain drive on 17 inch wheels. The carbon fiber bodywork was refined in the wind tunnel and it looks good. Stopping chores performed by an eight piston front caliper. Cost is $30,995.

Full press release:

EAST TROY, Wis. — (Monday, January 23, 2006) Erik Buell and company come full circle with the introduction of the 2007 Buell XBRR, a limited-edition production racing motorcycle designed exclusively for closed course competition. A spiritual successor to Buell’s first motorcycle, the 1983 RW750, the XBRR is poised to change the face of privateer racing with a professional-level, race-ready, production-based platform featuring top-shelf racing technology and typical Buell innovation.

“The XBRR combines the current culmination of Buell’s leading edge chassis technology and Harley-Davidson’s air-cooled V-Twin powertrain development in a platform designed by and developed for dedicated racers,” said Erik Buell, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer, Buell Motorcycle Company.

For Erik Buell, the XBRR marks a return to his racing roots. As a successful privateer road racer early in his career, Buell eventually built his own race bikes for the AMA’s then-premier Formula 1 class. The RW750 was a hand-built race bike, and it became the first official Buell motorcycle. Two were produced before the AMA discontinued the class after 1985. Buell then translated his race-bred design principles into a line of successful street bikes leading up to the current XB platform.

The Buell XBRR features a modified XB Thunderstorm 1339cc (103.6mm bore x 79.4mm stroke) air/oil-cooled V-Twin motor rated at 150-hp (measured at the crankshaft). The engine is fed by a dual-downdraft 62mm throttle-body electronic fuel injection system and a ram-air intake system integrated with a new wind-tunnel developed carbon fiber fairing.

The XBRR is the first production Buell since the 1988-89 RR1200 to feature a full fairing. Its lightweight carbon design integrates ducts for cooling of the engine and oil cooler. The fairing was extensively wind tunnel tested to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag.

The XBRR chassis is the revolutionary XB design with fuel-in-the-frame and oil-in-the-swingarm, modified with a billet axle adjustment system and chain-drive to allow gearing changes for different race tracks. Suspension travel is managed by fully adjustable Ohlins units, with 43mm front forks and a remote-reservoir rear shock.

A new ZTL2 (Zero Torsional Load) eight-piston front caliper grabs a standard XB front rotor providing outstanding braking performance, but with less weight than conventional designs. New XBRR six-spoke magnesium wheels weigh 33 percent less than standard XB wheels.

Instruments include tachometer, indicator lamps for shift, power on and low oil pressure. The XBRR features a unique Buell Racing paint scheme.

Buell XBRR features:

* 1339cc (81.7 cid) Thunderstorm Powertrain:
o 4.080 inch (103.6 mm) bore and 3.125 inch (79.4mm) stroke
o 12.5:1 compression ratio
o Dual 62 mm down-draft fuel-injection throttle bodies
o WAVE-analyzed header and mass-centralized muffler
o 150+ peak engine horsepower at 8000 rpm (per SAE J607)
o 100 ft. lbs. peak engine torque at 6500 rpm (per SAE J607)
* Black 6-Spoke Cast Magnesium Racing wheels:
o Front: 3.5 inch (88.9mm) x 17 inch (431.8mm) wheel with 120/70R-17 tire
o Rear: 5.5 inch (139.7mm) x 17 inch (431.8mm) wheel with 190/55R-17 tire
* Buell ZTL2reversed rotor front brake with eight-piston Nissin caliper
* Ram Air system integrated with full racing fairing
* Carbon fiber bodywork
* 43mm Ohlins adjustable front suspension with inverted forks
* Ohlins fully-adjustable rear suspension with coil-over monoshock with remote reservoir
* 55-degree lean angle (hard contact)
* 30.5-inch (775 mm) seat height
* 21-degree rake and 3.4-inch (86 mm) trail
* Cast-aluminum swingarm with billet axle adjustment system
o Center position wheelbase 52.8 inches (1341 mm)
o Range wheelbase 51.8 - 53.8 inches (1315 mm - 1367 mm)
* Buell Racing paint scheme
* To accommodate eligibility in a wide variety of racing classes, an engine modification kit will be available to help conform the XBRR to a wide range of class regulations.

Zolfe Orange - Hayabusa Powered Car

Zolfe Orange Hayabusa Powered Car
Here’s something called the Zolfe Orange. It’s a composite bodied car over a tubular space frame with integral roll cage. Displayed at the Autosport show, the Zolfe has a 175 horsepower Hayabusa engine with a six speed gearbox for 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, top speed is 135mph. The turbo option ups horsepower to the 300-350 range for 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and top speed around 150mph. Production set for mid 2006.

The company producing this is called Zolfe Sportz but the entry from Pistonheads says it’s the product of our old friends at Z Cars who do this sort of thing to all sorts of 4 wheelers. We’ll follow up.

ENV Hydrogen Motorcycle Shown in Tokyo

ENV hydrogen fuel cell motorcycle
Is this the future? If what the makers of the ENV say is true, it’s coming soon. The ENV hydrogen fuel cell motorcycle by Intelligent Energy is now on display at the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Expo in Tokyo. Gaijin Biker was on hand to take these photos and talk to the company rep. We’ve had several previous posts on the ENV however, it looks like this is very close to market at an affordable price. If they meet their projected timeframe, this motorcycle could be the first affordable hydrogen vehicle of any kind.

According to IE, the ENV will be on sale to consumers in about 18 months at a price below $10,000. Initial distribution will be in selected urban areas in California and in Tokyo. IE is developing mini fuel reformers to supply hydrogen for the fuel cell. You can even sign up to be an ENV tester!
The CORE fuel cell used in the ENV can be removed and used to supply electrical power in your house.

Here are highlights from their literature:

- Feels like skiing, sailing, or windsurfing, more than like riding a conventional motorcycle
- They are NOT going to add fake engine noise to it. They like it quiet.
- Fewer moving parts means maintenance should be cheaper
- Industrial design done by Seymourpowell


- Motor: 6kW 48 VDC Brushed motor model LEM-170, supplied by LMC ltd.
- Motor Controller: Brusa direct current (model MD 206)
- Fuel Cell: 1kW Intelligent Energy air-cooled (2 x AC32-48)
- Hydrogen storage: High pressure composite cylinder (Luxfer L65)
- Hydrogen energy: 2.4kWeh
- Storage battery 4×12V Lead Acid (15 Ahr) connected in series
- Acceleration: 0-20 mph in 4.3s
0-30 mph in 7.3s
0-50 mph in 12.1s

- Top Speed: 50mph
- Range: at least 100 miles
- Bike mass: 80kg total mass including Core
- Hydrogen: 99.9% purity
- Oxygen: taken from air
- Hydrogen refuel time: Less than 5 minutes
- Electrical connection: Multi-core (Intelligent Energy specific)

ENV hydrogen fuel cell motorcycle

Ducati 3D Extreme Motorcycle Mobile Phone Game

Ducati 3D ExtremeDucati has something to keep those reflexes sharp during the cold weather, a little racing action for your mobile phone, Ducati 3D Extreme. I’ll have to get the reviews from someone else, though, my fingers don’t work that fast on tiny buttons.

Vir2L Studios LLC and Superscape Group PLC, global entertainment publishers and developers of worldwide mobile entertainment, announced the launch of Ducati 3DExtreme for mobile phones. Building upon the highly successful Ducati Extreme released in late 2004, this latest Ducati motorcycle racing game is designed for 3G mobile phones and features the latest in advanced mobile 3D graphics. Based on the world-renowned Ducati motorcycles - a brand associated with industry-leading design, performance, power, and excitement - Ducati 3DExtreme is now available to mobile users in North America and Europe and will soon be available in other parts of the world.

“Ducati 3DExtreme is a revolutionary racing experience for mobile gamers.” said Douglas Frederick, president of Vir2L Studios. “In partnering with Superscape, a brilliant 3D engine and game development partner, we’ve added 3D graphics and expanded gameplay to all the successful features of the original Ducati Extreme. A preeminent racing game for wireless devices, Ducati 3DExtreme captures the action and excitement of the high performance Ducati, the most beautiful and powerful of motorcycle racing machines.”

Ducati 3D Extreme Ducati 3D Extreme Ducati 3D Extreme

“Ducati is thrilled to be part of the development of such a technologically and graphically advanced 3D mobile race game, one that surpasses the expectations of even our most demanding enthusiasts — the “Ducatisti.” said David Gross, creative director of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. “Besides actually racing our sport bikes at Monza and Mugello, these are among the biggest thrills anyone can have with a Ducati!”

The features and gameplay are captivating and will keep mobile racers glued to their handsets. In Ducati 3DExtreme you choose from several Monster and Superbike models, and each model features unique handling and performance characteristics that are based on the actual Ducati production models. Players compete in four tours with three challenges per tour, including Time Attack, Race, Knockout and Race Line.

Kevin Roberts, CEO of Superscape Group plc, said: “I am delighted that we are continuing our relationship with Vir2L, and that we have had the opportunity to work together on the development of a great new racing game based on one of the world’s best known premium brands. I am sure that the title will have huge appeal to motorcycle and mobile game fans across the globe.”

Higher performance Ducati models become available as players progress, or they can customize their motorcycle through modifications to tires, suspension, engine, or exhaust. Racers can also wager on who will win the race. When a race is won, players can use winnings to make repairs, upgrade their Ducati components, or even buy a new bike. Players also compete to increase their standings on world leaderboards.

Prototype Kawasaki 1970 750cc Z1

750cc Kawasaki Z1
Kawasaki’s legendary Z1 was a fast and hugely popular bike made for the U.S. market. Everyone knows it displaced 903cc. What many of you may not know is the original design work on the Z1 was for a 750cc version to be released in 1970, which, due to the Honda 750’s introduction, was then changed to the larger 903cc displacement and brought out in 1972.

This photo of the appearance prototype, done in 1968 or 1969 by a small design firm in California, McFarlane Design, later Bartlett Design Associates, shows styling cues that would later appear on Kawasaki’s other legendary bikes, the 2 stroke triples.

As our source suggests, this could mean, “the styling of Kawasaki’s whole lineup of bikes through the 70s was actually developed right here in the good-old USA, not Japan AND that the Z1 was always intended to be DOHC, even in 1968 or 1969 when this photo was taken at Mcfarlane’s in Santa Barbara.”

Twin Harley Powered Sundoulos Sportstar

Sundoulos Sportstar twin Harley powered car
The Sportstar just redefined the entire concept of motorcycle powered cars. Look at this! Originally designed as a production racer to compete against Corvettes and Vipers with power from a twin turbo 10,000rpm 960hp V8, the project was put on hold when Grand-Am rules changed and moved toward an emphasis on Daytona prototypes. The car became obsolete as a racer.

Barry Watkins, not one accept defeat, assembled a team of builders and fabricators and came up with the idea of powering the car with twin Harleys. That’s right, not Harley twins but twin Harleys, as in two engines!

It’s easy to see the extraordinary design and build quality of this car and it’s hard to summarize in a few words, so the best I can do is refer you to the website and have you read through the story and check out all of the photos. Amazing!

Sundoulos Sportstar twin Harley powered car

Sundoulos Sportstar twin Harley Davidson engines

Royal Enfield Biodiesel Motorcycle

Biodiesel Royal EnfieldCruising the listings on ebay I found this 350cc diesel Royal Enfield Bullet. A company out in Colorado promoting the use of biodiesel imported the bike and use it as a demonstrator.

This is obviously no hot rod, but on the other hand, it will run on biodiesel or straight vegetable oil, pretty neat. If you make your own fuel, you could run this thing practically free. This could be one helluva deal as long as you have plenty of time to get where you’re going.

Ecosse Moto Works updates web for X-4 and X-5

Ecosse X-5Ecosse Moto Works has added some info on the upcoming X-4 and X-5 models we mentioned before. Although the images are the same drawings that appeared in the magazine article they mention a couple things I like, one being their “anti-chopper” design theme. As we’ve asked here for so long, why can’t more U.S. companies build outside the chopper segment of the market? They add:

X-5 is the radical 21st century translation of the X-4 that possesses an innovative suspension system — trick fork design with a very different, very impressive rear suspension setup — and proprietary 7-speed transmission.

7 speeds? Very nice. How many times have you been riding along looking for one more upshift? I like it. You know, if Ecosse gets serious here, Buell might not have the large displacement American V twin sport bike market all to itself anymore. That could make for an interesting competition. I’m not sure how many bikes Ecosse can produce but if they do this right, they just might have something. Of course, there’s price, too, which isn’t mentioned …

TECA Concept enclosed motorcycle

TECA enclosed motorcycleHere’s an interesting design, the TECA concept vehicle has an aerodynamic carbon fiber composite shell that should, according to their website, give performance improvements of about 35% and save fuel as well. Enclosed motorcycles are neat.

DP1 Update - Hayabusa V8 only

DP1 with Hayabusa V8Thought I would drop in and see how the DP1 was coming along and there was this new CAD image showing the placement of the Hayabusa V8. Dennis has decided that the car will most likely only be available with the Hayabusa V8 instead of as an option to the Hayabusa 4 cylinder. He also said the car will have a sequential gearbox with a real reverse gear.

Looking at the drawing shows the component layout very clearly with engine next to the driver and indicates how weight distribution should fall very close to 50/50. I can’t wait to see how the finished car performs but the build process is fascinating to watch. Beautiful work!

OX99-11 - The Yamaha Supercar

Yamaha OX99-11 Supercar

Last week we brought you the previously little known story of the Kawasaki race car. Well, Yamaha also had a factory effort focused on the design and construction of, not a race car exactly, but an exotic supercar using a detuned version of Yamaha’s then Formula One V12 engine and built to the highest levels of automotive engineering and sophistication, the car was known as the OX99-11.

One of the key individuals involved in the project, Dave Sullivan, tells us how this car came about. You might notice the extreme contrast between this effort and the Kawasaki race project. Of course the purpose was completely different but nevertheless, it tells the story of forays into the automotive world not well known outside of those who were directly involved. Unfortunately, however, there is a similarity to these two very different stories, at the end, events derailed both projects just short of ultimate success.

There’s little I can add so I’ll let Dave tell you all about it:

In 1991 I was working for a company called IAD on the south coast of England. IAD were a design and engineering consultancy for the motor industry, we had worked on the Mazda Miata, Lincoln Town Car and Bentley Continental, to name but a few. I started as a structural engineer on the Town Car in 1988, and I was also doing chassis work by 1991.

Yamaha had conceived the OX99-11 several years earlier, but had been struggling to find a partner who could help them realize their ambition. Strangely it was the sporting goods division (with products ranging from Yachts to squash racquets), rather than the motorcycle arm, that was leading the project, and it was part of a master plan that included the Formula 1 engine program.

To support the Formula 1 project Yamaha had set up a subsidiary company called Ypsilon Technology in Milton Keynes, UK, where the engines would be serviced. The factory was chosen to be big enough to produce the OX99-11 and a small team, mostly from the Aston Martin race team, were hired to set up the factory and help engineer the car.

Yamaha OX99-11 Supercar

A German company had had a go at the project, and produced a prototype that looked a lot like the sports racing cars of the time, (Aluminum fabricated chassis), but Yamaha were not happy with this. I’m not sure how the initial contact with IAD was made but it was probably through Brabham, who were using the Yamaha V12 engines in F1. Anyway, I was invited along to one of the first meetings because of my interest and knowledge of racing (I was racing a small formula car at the time). I immediately connected with the Yamaha project manager and had a good understanding of what he wanted. At the next meeting, in Japan, I presented some sketches I had done of the chassis, and we came back with the project in the bag

The design we completed, in under 12 months, had the following spec:-

Yamaha 3.5 litre V12 (De-tuned version of Formula 1 engine). Approx 400bhp at 10,000 rpm.
Carbon Fibre “tub” with engine mounted directly to rear bulkhead (Manufactured by DPS composites)
Aluminium panels hand made using traditional rolling techniques and hammer form tooling.
Front Suspension.
Double wishbones from Aero section steel tubing, fabricated uprights, push rods to inboard coil over damper units
Rear Suspension
Double wishbones from Aero section steel tubing, fabricated uprights, push rods to inboard coil over damper units mounted directly on gearbox.
FF Developments 6 speed transaxle with limited slip differential and multi-plate AP racing clutch
AP Racing 6 piston (Front) and 4 piston (Rear) billet machined calipers with Cast Iron discs.
Magnesium Alloy
Goodyear Eagle F1
Single central seat with small “pillion” seat just behind and to one side of the driver. Minimal trim
Single “Gullwing” door

Yamaha OX99-11 Supercar
Because IAD were mostly experienced with road car design and build, and hence had the necessary understanding of the regulations the OX99-11 would have to meet, Yamaha were concerned that the required race car detail design and manufacture would not be captured. So they hired a consultant to oversee the design and lend it some credibility in the press. The man they chose was Robin Herd. Robin had been one of the founders of the March F1 team, and had a good reputation in the industry. He also brought in his chief designer Tino Belli to give us some guidance on the chassis and Aerodynamic design.

The first car we built was un-painted and used as a test hack. In order to keep the car secret, all the early testing was done at night at the Millbrook Proving Ground in the UK. It was also wind tunnel tested at MIRA in the UK. I was lucky enough to drive this car during testing and was mightily impressed with the engine. It could be driven like an ordinary car up to about 6,000 rpm, then all hell broke loose as it accelerated up to the 10,000 rpm red line.

IAD built 2 further cars, one black one red, which were used to test various systems and later used for the press launch of the car, when it was driven by John Watson the ex-formula 1 driver. We also built a rolling chassis for the launch to show off the Formula 1 inspired design. The car looked fantastic and got very good reviews. The only “independent” journalist to drive it was Paul Frere who loved it.

As the car was so different from anything we had done before it was far from “right first time” and early testing showed it needed a lot of development on areas such as Aerodynamics and Handling. Unfortunately we did not get to do this as IAD and Yamaha had a disagreement over budgets and the project was taken away from IAD, to be completed by Yamaha’s own team at Ypsilon.

However, Ypsilon only got about 6 months to develop the car before the plug was pulled on the whole thing. The Japanese economy was taking a dive at the time and Yamaha figured they would not find enough buyers if they launched the car at that time. They promised to come back to it in a year or so, but of course things move on and it never happed.

About a year later McLaren launched their F1, which although technically superior to the Yamaha, lacked the flair and sheer audacity of the OX99-11 which I think would, had it been built, have been one of the most outrageous cars ever made.

Lehman Trikes Victory Powered Pit Boss

Lehman Pit Boss Victory Powered Trike

Lehman Trikes has added another manufacturer to its list of partners, this time Victory Motorcycles has signed on with Lehman to create the “Pit Boss” trike based on the Victory Kingpin. It was rolled out Saturday on Lehman Trikes Day at the Mineral Palace Hotel and Casino in Deadwood, South Dakota