Oct 14 2008 Harriet Ridley
Cologne starts bike show season
THE days are closing in, the skies are getting greyer and it's raining more than ever. Yes, autumn's here and that can only mean one thing - it's time for the international bike shows.
All the manufacturers are busy unveiling their new models at these, starting with the bi-annual Intermot Cologne Show which took place at the start of October.
Suzuki was out in force with its revamped GSX-R1000, which it first unveiled a little earlier in Paris. The king of the class is now lighter, shorter, more powerful and faster than ever. How does a claimed 191bhp with 871lb/ft of torque grab you?
Suzuki also unveiled two brand new bikes: A big new custom machine called the Intruder 1500, and the 650cc V-twin Gladius - a new entry-level roadster to take on Ducati's Monster.
The new Gladius is based around a tweaked SV650 engine in a smart new chassis. A steel tube frame and steel swingarm add some funky lines, while a low seat and basic yet effective running gear should match the class standards.
In the words of the general manager of Suzuki GB, Paul de Lusignan: 'The Gladius will appeal to the same riders looking at the likes of the Monster 696 and Kawasaki ER6.'
Speaking of Kawasaki, the green-liveried manufacturer has revamped once again its ZX-6R supersport machine, and it now looks a lot like its big brother ZX-10R.
As a Kawasaki spokesman said: "When we developed the bike, we focused more on control, not outright performance. We aimed for a linear throttle response and more power in the mid-range as well as chassis changes to give lighter handling."
The lighter handling will no doubt be aided by the fact that the bike has lost a claimed 10 kilos over the model it replaces.
Fresh from retaking the MotoGP title, Yamaha showed off its revamped YZF-R1 with its new looks, revised chassis and suspension and, most important of all, a radical new engine.
Everyone's talking about the new 998cc engine and its 'big bang' cylinder firing order. Yamaha claims that this increases and flattens the torque curve, and all but eliminates the torque inertia.
Yamaha project leader Nishima also claims there is an improved 'feel' for the rider, with a better, more direct connection between throttle and rear wheel.
'Our aim was not to increase horsepower,' said Nishima, 'although there is a small horsepower gain. More than that we wanted improved torque in the mid-range. The change to the cylinder firing order and reduction in the torque inertia isn't new, I think it was patented in 1954, but it was only our race department, in 2004, that took the design and used it in Rossi's M1 MotoGP bike.'
Also on display was Yamaha's new V-max launched to the press a few weeks ago. The new bike gets a 1,679cc, liquid-cooled, 65-degree, V4 four-stroke with 16 valves that punts out 197bhp at 9,000rpm and 123lb/ft of torque at 6,500rpm.
It gets some tasty Yamaha technology including fly-by-wire throttle and variable intake ducts, so it should be quite something to ride.
Honda showed off a V4 sports bike concept it described as the bike Honda really wants to build. There's no word on the technology inside the bike other than the new V4 motor, but its development marks 30 years of the Honda V4 engine configuration.
Honda is also offering the CBR600RR with ABS, and a racy replacement for the CG125.
Yes, this roadster much loved by learners, commuters, riding schools and teenagers since 1991 is being axed, making way for the all-new CBF125 with its heavily revised, fuel-injected 125cc single cylinder, air-cooled four-stroke engine that boasts a peak output of 11.1bhp and 8.2lb/ft of torque. There's also an all-new steel chassis, cast aluminium wheels and flashy bodywork.