Aston Martin Developing Motorcycle

Brough Superior Motorcycles, an infamous brand in England from the early to mid-1900s has been brought back to life by Aston Martin. The British Car Manufacturer received the boxer design from motorcycles built by Brough. This is because long-time enthusiasts Thierry Henriette and Mark Upham provided the blueprint to Aston Martin. This car manufacturer has retrofitted the bike, giving it an additional sixty horsepower on its original 120. Aston has also turbocharged the engine and created a new chassis that comprises of carbon fire aluminium.

The Chief Creative Officer at Aston Martin, Mark Reichman, has worked for years to bring this project to light. Professionally, he mentioned to reporters that the skills required to develop this motorcycle were crafted through the development of Valkyrie. The Aston Martin Valkyrie is the fastest and most exotic car ever created by the British manufacturer. Their unique expertise will enable them to make a groundbreaking motorcycle that will surely become a hit amongst British Enthusiasts.

Those potentially interested in purchasing this new motorcycle from Aston Martin will have to wait until the end of 2020. The Aston Martin 001 Motorcycle won’t be released in December 2020 for more than 108 thousand Euros. Delivery is anticipated internationally in four to six months, with British and European Customers taking priority for Aston Martin. Unfortunately, this bike won’t be in the budget for average petrol heads looking for a new toy to experience.

The Controversy

The Brough Superior Motorcycle brand was infamous across England. Unfortunately, major controversy surrounded their vehicles because of Rolls Royce. At that time, Rolls Royce was the most pivotal car manufacturer in the world and began fighting with Brough. This was because Brough claimed they were the Rolls Royce of Motorcycle, which is an illegally advertising offence. When Rolls Royce started to seek legal advice, Brough was finishing assembly for the upcoming British Motor Show. Rolls Royce has a secret representative witness the Brough manufacturing process, which was identical with Rolls. The following result was numerous slanderous campaigns against Brough, which saw the brand quickly fall in popularity.

What made the brand famous for decades after it fell was the fact that their motorcycle was used in Lawrence of Arabia. The film became legendary at its time, with many picking up on the incredible bike ridden by T.E. Lawrence. He is quoted as saying that it’s the best motorcycle he’s ever ridden. However, in recent years, the classic vehicle has become less popular. This prompted Aston Martin to acquire the design plans and release a modernised version of the vehicle for consumers. Its history and manufacturer are what is creating the extensive price tag. Regardless, it’s expected that the AM001 motorcycle will sell out almost immediately.

Off-Road Bikes

Off-road bikes are motor cross bikes with added protection and strengthened suspension and larger fuel tanks. It is essential to have a reliable motor. Some endure bikes are also roadworthy, i.e. comply with road bike regulations. The engine size is from 125cc to 360cc for two strokes and between 195cc and 650cc for four strokes.

For wet areas, a small light engine would be the best choice, and for drier, harder surfaces a heavier bike with a bigger engine would probably be the right choice. Possible improvements would be handguards on the handlebars to protect the rider’s hands and a suitably ratio-ed gearbox. There are many off-road bike manufacturers, the better-known brands being Honda, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha.

History

The first endure event was held in 1913 in England. The requirements for these bikes must be the ability to last out for 1250km and a minimum of 6 days, and the only repairs done to the motorcycle must be by the rider with whatever parts are allowed. The International Six Day Trial (ISDT) usually held their annual events in Britain. Still, in 1973 it was held in the USA, and over the following years, it was twice in Australia, again in the USA, Brazil, New Zealand and Chile. In the last few events, up to 32 countries have been represented.

In the USA the Greenhorn Enduro covered 500 miles in two days which tested riders and bike alike. Some enduros today are competed time trials over two hundred km, on dirt and hardened road surfaces. Although most U.K. endures were for two strokes, the Auto-Cycle Union has a separate event for four-stroke class bikes, and their favourable fuel consumption has allowed for legs of 30 miles between fuel stops.

Suitable Enduro Bikes

Yamaha. The YZ450F 4-stroke was developed in 1997 and was an immediate success, and Yamaha led the way to new time four-stroke motor cross bikes. Following on from Yamaha’s YZ450F, Honda produced the CRF450R. These two bikes competed on a “level playing field,” i.e. they were very similar. Only minor differences in gearing, frames, camshafts and exhaust valve differentiated the two bikes. Yamaha was the first with an electric start, and Honda soon followed suit.

Husqvarna. The TE570 won the world endured championship in 2001, but it has proved itself in desert racing and motor cross. The Husqvarna is street roadworthy, and the components are top of the range. It also compares at a price with the smaller Yamaha and Honda.

Beta. The RR-S are road and track-ready, and these come in four engine sizes from 350cc to 500cc. These well designed and well-built bikes are up there with the KTMs and the Huqvarnas with prices starting at $10300 and up to $10600 for the 500.

Mini Motorbikes

The Rupp Mini Bike

Made famous by Rupp who produced a small bike with a 2.25hp engine, it had no suspension and no front brake. These were a hit with kids all over the States. Soon other mini bikes hit the road. The Roadster Minicycle was very basic, having a pipe frame and with back and front shocks, a seat that could take two small behinds, and a pull-start, four-stroke motor. These bikes were also intended for the adult rider, hence the “monkey bars”. Later the engine was fitted with a smaller Briggs and Stratten 3.5hp, and a two-speed clutch drove the rear wheel – no gear changing! Many riders of larger bikes started their obsessions with the Rupp, which was the stepping stone to greater thrills!

Honda ST-Series.

The Honda ST-Series, known as the Dax (aka Trail 70 in Northern America or the CT 70). The CT 50, 90 and 110 Trail Cubs were were produced from 1969 until 1981, and the CT 90 came a few years later in 1973. The 50cc was brought back in 1995 for the next five years. All the bikes in the CT series had a pressed frame with a long saddle, and small diameter wheels and all had folding monkey handlebars. The powerhouse was an air-cooled, 4-cylinder which was fitted with a three-speed automatic or a manual four-speed. These small bikes were intended for going in the trunk or on racks on the RV or caravan for use at the destination. The name “Dax” was used again at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show as the new folding electric bike developed to complement the Honda Bulldog.

Yamaha Vogel QB50

This awesome little bike should have been opposition to the Honda ST. But it wasn’t. It had a 49cc two-stroke with four speeds and knobbly 200mm tyres and foldable handlebars. Mass was 57kg, making it easy to lift into the truck or for a child to pick up out of the dirt!

Yamaha LB50 Chappy

Produced form the 70’s to the ’80s these bikes came with a choice of two engines – the 50cc and the 70cc. With the automatic gearbox with drive, neutral and low, the rider could climb any slope it was challenged with. There were upgrades for those wanting better performance, and these included simple changes by changing sprocket ratios. Top speed: 80kph. With the kick start not up to much, the Chappy could be crash-started (Jumpstart).

Suzuki JR 50

The Suzuki JR 50 was designed in conjunction with Kawasaki in 1978, and production lasted until 2006. The engine was 50cc air-cooled, two-stroke, fitted with an oil injector, so no oil/petrol mixing was needed. The gearbox was a one-speed auto, and the back and front wheels were fitted with drum brakes. Front shocks were telescopic, and the rear had twin shocks. The tank capacity was 2 litres and the mass 38kg.

The Harley-Davidson

In 1903 the first Harley-Davidson was assembled in Milwaukee, and soon it became an iconic USA product. At the turn of the 20th century, many motorcycle companies were trying to make their way in a lucrative but competitive market. Only two of these companies have survived – Harley-Davidson and the Indian (which went out of production for 50 years). By 1907 Davidson and his two brothers, together with Harley, were well on their way to success. The 45 degree V-Twin, which was air-cooled, was reliable (by the standards of those days!) mode of transport and was soon in demand.

The World Wars

During the First World War, the US army became their biggest customers. After the First World War Harley-Davidson and the Indian were the only two manufacturers to survive. Over the next twenty-five years, Harley-Davidson prospered and the at the start of the Second World War production had to keep up with the demands of the army’s orders – a total of 90 000 units. Amongst other models, the Sportster, which debuted in 1957, became the most successful model and is still being produced.

In the ’60s Harley-Davidson was bought out, and in 1965 the company went public and merged with American Machine and Foundry. This arrangement wasn’t very successful, and in 1980 it was sold back to the present day owners, which includes members of the Davidson family. Today, Willie Davidson is President (styling). The next ten years saw the introduction of iconic models such as the Softail and the Road King. Then in the ’90s H-D got control of Buell Motorcycles and Buell bikes are now being distributed through H-D outlets.

Harley-Davidson has kept up with its marketing, and the brand is known all over the world. They have produced all sorts of branded products, which have been an excellent supplement to their turnover. In 2009 H-D changed its chassis to a cast, rigid frame with a more extended swinging arm. They have also ventured into three-wheelers. One feature of their bikes that has never changed is the 45 degrees V-Twin engine. Although H-D is famous for its cruisers, there is also a racing side to their stable. They have been, lately, successful in hill climbs and dirt track racing. Since the Second World War has made its name on road and track, with two consecutive wins Daytona 200. H-D engine, fitted to a streamliner, also holds the land speed record of 265 mph. On the dirt, the XR 750 excelled with Scott Parker achieving 93 wins and 9 Championships.

Superbikes

Aprilia RSV4 1100Factory

Who wouldn’t like to ride a bike with three changeable modes: Sport, Track and Race? The 1078cc motor has been fitted to the RSV4 frame and given 214bhp with 90ft/lb of torque it is out of this world! All the best features have been added for this 2019 model. These include Moto GP wings, braced internal swinging arms, forks with an extra 5mm, titanium Akrapovic exhausts and Stylema Brembos brake system. Downside: the steering is too tight and small and leaves the rider with aching hands and wrists, but the power on the open road certainly takes your mind off the steering. A bit flat at the start, but at mid-stride, it pops, and at the top this bike is fantastic.

Yamaha R1M

Taking the 1998 Yamaha R1’s 600cc chassis and shoe-horning a 1000cc into it, made for a small, light, quick and nippy ride. Yamaha has changed much, but they have stuck to the basic design, and the handling and the cornering are epic. All the famous riders who have straddled these Yamahas can attest to the comfort and ease of riding. The street model of the R1 is a joy to ride –right front end feel, and fast, but not the fasted bike on the road. The display is of the best: white on black or vice versa – it is easy to read under all conditions. The brakes are ample, but perhaps the pads could be better for quicker reaction time.

Downside: The R1 doesn’t handle the humps and bumps on the open road, so it is better on a surfaced track. The Upside is that the R1 is beautiful. All design features are artful, and the finishes are the best – magnesium wheels, titanium exhaust headers, and an aluminium tank that seems to mould itself to your body.

Ducati Panigale V4S Corse

The Ducati has remained the same since 2014 with a V4, but with changes such as Ohlin suspension Marchesini rims and Brembo braking systems – all the best! The narrow body is hard and unforgiving, but who cares when it has a 1100cc engine? The Panigale takes a lot of getting used to, but once you get going- you get going! This bike doesn’t like to be babied and hops when you let it!

The BMW S1000 RR

After ten years of top places in racing, the BMW has brought out the S1000RR. A total re-make from the chassis to the nuts and bolts, together with viable valve timing, the engine comes in 4kg less than its predecessor, with a total mass of 193kg. Even with such additions as carbon wheels and a lightweight lithium battery, it is one of the least costly big bikes on the road.

The BMW handles all types of roads and road surfaces with grace. Unlike other bikes, the S1000RR takes ant road in its stride. The electronic suspension control, Pirellis that hug the surface and the lack of weight make the bike iconic.

Motorcycling Through Mexico

First of all, before leaving for a trip through Mexico, get your Vehicle Import Permit. This is as important as your passport! Get it online before leaving the comfort of your home. There are some entry points where you can get yours, but ensure your place of entry is one of them! There are places inside Mexico where you can get one, but you have to get there first!

  • Insurance – Do you want to stay out of a Mexican gaol? Then get your Mexican Insurance, not International Insurance, not North American Insurance, but Mexican Insurance. The others don’t work! If you don’t have the correct insurance and are involved in an accident – you can see the inside of a Mexican gaol!
  • Roads – Some roads are free but beware the bad surfaces in some places. On other routes, you will have to pay the toll. These roads are well kept, but you don’t see the little villages, and you don’t get to meet the man in the street.
  • Police – You will encounter roadblocks, but these are well signposted, and if you are stopped, you will be asked basic questions and will be waved on your way. But don’t mess with the cops – they are waiting for smart-arse tourists!
  • Rules of the road – Speed limits are well signposted. Regular routes range from 20 to 40 kph while toll roads vary between 70 to 100 kph. There are dotted lines on the shoulder; these will become separate lanes to enable overtaking on your left. Trucks must travel slowly and before passing, make sure you understand what the signs on the rear mean. Semi Doble Remolgue has two trailers attached to this horse. There are also turn signals if a trucker indicates to the left he is telling you it’s safe to pass on the left, and not necessarily turning left himself. The decision is still on you to make sure the road ahead is clear.
  • Hazards – Beware of animals on the road – dogs, cats and farm animals. Also, especially on side streets, you will come across potholes and rocks on the way.
  • Fuel – Demax stations in small towns may only supply 87 octanes and in larger cities will have 91 octanes. Keep cash for gas as not all gas stations have credit card facilities. Ablutions are usually OK. There are also signposts to inform you of the next gas stop.

Places to see

If travelling down through Baja, you will find friendly locals who will welcome you to their towns with their generosity, with a laid back attitude and the food will be basic Mexican food, but excellent. Baja is a thinly populated semi-desert to the desert countryside. The beaches are amazing, and the scenery is unique. Don’t expect to have all the mod cons of the USA – even electricity is not always available, but cell phone reception is generally reasonable. Don’t let the border crossing set the tone for your holiday. Choose a quieter passage and stay away from places like Tijuana.

Record Indian Scout

In 1967 Burt Munro of New Zealand took his modified Indian Scout to Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA to try to break the world speed record for that size bike. Born in 1899 to a farming family on the Southern island of New Zealand, Burt was never content to live the life of a farmer. Not old enough to enter the 1st World War, he worked on a tunnel construction for a while until returning to the farm. He lived for speed, and at 15, he started to enter races. He then got work as a motorbike mechanic and rep and soon became known in the racing circles, and he raced on Oreti Beach which had miles of flat beaches. He also ran in Australia. Munro entered every type of race that came his way – road racing, drag racing, scrambling, and hill climbs amongst others.

After divorcing his wife, Munro built a double garage to work on his bikes and also lived in the workshop. He made parts for the bike out of scrap such as the rods were made form an old Ford axle and which lasted for many years. Using scraps of different metals, he cast his pistons to his design and shaped the cams by hand. He also changed the side valves to overhead valves. His bike changed so much; one could hardly recognize it as an Indian. He worked over 100 hours a week, but as he got older, this dropped to about 70 hours a week. Over the years he bettered many New Zealand records and held a speed record for 12 years.

Ambition

After visiting Bonneville Flats, he realized he had to take his Indian to the United States to try his hand at speed record-breaking at the Bonneville Salt Flats. New Zealand couldn’t offer him a long enough stretch to test the top end of his bike, and as he had saved most of his life and with some help from his friends, at 65, he created his old Indian, loaded it onto a cargo boat and took a job on board as a chef. Once in the States he bought an old station wagon and towed his bike to Bonneville.

When he arrived in Bonneville, he was informed that he had not pre-registered so he could not enter the speed trials. Luckily, he had befriended the American speedsters who managed to talk the officials into allowing Munro to come although the Indian did not comply with the organizer’s criteria. In his first run, he set a world record of 179 mph in the 1000cc class. Munro rode again over the next few years and survived a crash in 1967. His bike had picked up a speed wobble, so he had sat up to try to bring the bike under control, and the rush of air had blown his goggles off, and at that speed, he could see nothing, so he crashed the bike to stop it.
He died in 1978 from a heart attack.

Namibia

Namibia has a lot to offer a motorbike tour. Unbelievable scenery and panoramas with right roads, but beware: there are mikes and mikes and more miles between towns. After Mongolia, Namibia is the least populated country in the world. The Namib Desert is the oldest desert in the world.

If you are expecting to stay in hotels, lodges or B and Bs, the sooner you book, the better, even a year or more ahead of time, especially during the tourist seasons. Plan a slow trip with distances between stopovers not too far apart. Otherwise, you will miss out on the viewing stops, places of interest and the wildlife. If you’re riding on gravel roads, allow enough time as trying to keep to a tight schedule could lead to a disaster. Remember the long distances to hospitals and doctors, and, no, there are no emergency helicopters or nearby ambulances!

Most of the scenic attractions are off the tarred roads and on the gravel side roads, so be daring and hit the side streets (slowly, of course!). Be aware also that some gravel roads are for 4 x 4s, so plan well. If you are taking a leisurely trip, allow for safari tours offered by the various forms of accommodation. Avoid night riding and try to be at your destination before dark, as many animals come out in the cool of the night, and they tend to jump in front of vehicles with disastrous consequences.

Be Prepared

Carry the makings for tyre repairs if you don’t carry spare wheels and all the necessary tools for side-of-the-road repairs. Make use of petrol stations whenever you see one – you never know where the next one will be! If you’re driving to the very north of Namibia, check with your travel doctor to see what vaccinations and meds you will need before you leave home, there is a chance that you will need malaria pills.

When deciding when to travel, choose the dry season as the less greenery, the easier to see the animals, but within-season rates, it is more expensive. The winter months are from June to August, but remember there are 300 sunny days in a year! In the rainy seasons, the gravel roads become a swamp, and the animals don’t congregate at the dams as they can find water in any small depression. Remember to take warm clothing for those cold nights.

Visit Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, which are close together, but there is more to do in Swakopmund. Walvis Bay has stunning flocks of flamingo in the shallows and whales at sea. You may wish to take a whale-watching cruise. You will also see the Germanic influence in the architecture as the Germans colonised Namibia, but were driven out of the country by South African troops during the First World War. Unfortunately, there is not much to see in and do in Windhoek!

The Isle of Man Motorcycle Race

At the beginning of the 1900s, the UK Parliament imposed a speed limit of 20 mph on motorcycles, so the Secretary of the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, Sir Julian Orde, searched for another venue without the restrictions imposed on them by the UK Parliament. They found one in the Isle of Man and having an autonomous parliament; they did not have to obey the UK Parliament and allowed the race.

The Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) was first held in 1907. By an Act of Parliament, the public roads used in practice and the races are closed to the public over the two weeks. However, on Sunday between the training and the tracks, the public can ride over the course on their bikes. The TT was first named the International Auto-Cycle Tourist Trophy. The race consisted of 10 laps of the race which was 15 miles, 1470 yards and all contestant’s bikes had to be roadworthy. Two years later, in 1911, the course was changed to the Snaefell Mountain Course of 37,4 miles.

Classes

The first races consisted of two courses in 1907, and in 1911 there were two races, one event for 350cc and another for 500cc. During the two World Wars, the tracks were suspended for the duration. In 1922 another race was included in the TT for 250cc bikes, and in 1923 a motorcycle with sidecar race was added.

After the Second World War, in 1946, the races were once again staged and in 1947 more formats were introduced and these included the Clubman TT race. In 1949 the Isle of Man TT joined the Moto GP as the course for the British venue for the World Motorcycle Championships. In the 1970s, due to safety concerns and “starting money” for the riders and the competitors, the manufacturers and the sporting federations started boycotting the IOMTT.

Winners

The all-time top winner of the TT is Joe Dunlop who has won 26 IOMTT’s! Close behind him is John McGuiness with 23 wins, but whether he will beat Dunlop’s record remains to be seen as he is reaching retirement age. Third, on the winner’s list is Michael Dunlop with 19 wins.

The Isle of Man is an independent island between Ireland and England, but still recognises Britain and the Monarch. Every year, apart from the competitors and their teams, there are over 40 000 spectators, and they all contribute to the Islands economy by 25 million pounds.

The IOMTT has become known as the most dangerous motorbike course in the world. Since its inception in 1907, there have been 150 fatalities at the IOMTT, some during the practise laps and some during the races. The deadliest was in 1970 when six people died during the TT. There are 264 corners – all on public roads – with speeds over 200mph.

Tyres

Riding on South African roads, whether on-road or off-road is not for the fainthearted. When considering a ride, ask yourself first if your bike is suitable for what you want to do. The main thing for a safe and comfortable ride is the tyres. Are they ideal for tarred roads? Are they suitable for gravel of off-road riding?

Metzeler Karoo is suitable for offroad driving, their long-lasting and durable. The extra spacing between the knobs allows for more footprint on the road, giving the bike more traction. Scorpion Rally brought out by Pirelli for the offroad races, such as the Dakar. The rubber compound has been tested under severe conditions and over long distances. The reinforced basic structure has decreased slide and temperature by 10% and 10degrees, respectively. The knob configuration on the front tyre improves handling, and the shape on the rear tyre allows for better manoeuvrability, especially on the turns and bends.

Heidenau has been manufacturing tyres for over 70 years and has 550 different designs to suit all road conditions. To counter all the loads and forces bikes put on their tyres, Heidenau has strengthened the tyre walls. To help riders, Heidenau has brought out the K60 Scout for all conditions. If you are riding on tarred roads, you will need a stickier tyre and a harder tyre for rough roads and off-road riding. Heidenau tested their tyres under South African conditions for two years before bringing out the K60 which has proved to be a winner under all circumstances.

Choosing the tyres for your bike

Bias-ply. The nylon plies run from bead to bead at 45 degrees to the direction of travel, alternation from the course at each layer. Radial Steel Belt. The first part is the casing which incorporates the single-ply running at 90 degrees to the beads. On the housing is the steel belt (coated in rubber to stop delamination) sitting under the tread, and then over the lot goes the rubber crown.

Radial steel belts allow for high speed on tarred surfaces. Softer sidewalls but thicker crown due to the steel belt. Wall and tyre act independently of each other. Bias Ply has thicker sidewalls for cut resistance. These tyres are a single unit, so when side walls deflate it affects the tread pattern. Correct tyre pressure is the key to good tyre care. Incorrect pressure can lead to heat build-up will affect the handling, shorten tyre life, and can even lead to tyre failure and finally, remember the saying from the South African motor Bike Association.