MOTUL becomes the new WorldSBK Title Sponsor for 2016

French company Motul, who makes motor oils and industrial lubricants has announced that they will be the title sponsor of the 2016 World Superbike championship. Having featured heavily as a track side sponsor over recent years, Motul is stepping up to replace Italian firm Eni as the major sponsor of the series for next year.

Starting from the forthcoming new season the series will feature a dedicated combined championship logo in all its adaptations, as well as a brand-new “WSBK by Motul” product. This will to be launched in the first quarter of the next season and aimed at the most demanding customers. In the meantime, racing oils and lubricants will be available for the teams competing in WorldSBK putting a perfect combination of racing knowledge and skills at the end users’ disposal.

Motul products will be on display within the paddock for all the Superbike fans attending the races, making this a full partnership, which involves fans, teams and Motul guests. Romain Grabowski, Motul Motorsport Manager said: “We are really delighted to add WorldSBK to the list of motorcycling disciplines we support on a worldwide basis.  As with the FIM EWC, WorldSBK teams will be able to use the Motul Factory Line range which is dedicated to racing, and benefits from knowledge gained from the major manufacturers’ use of experimental products in MotoGP. This 360° partnership includes the launch of a WSBK by Motul product which will be destined for fans of the championship, and we’ve also got a brand-new ‘Motul SBK Experience’ concept which from 2016 will allow us to offer our customers a unique experience at each of the season’s 15 races.  We can’t wait for this 2016 campaign to begin!”

Marc Saurina, WSBK Commercial and Marketing Director said: “It is a great pleasure for us to see such an important brand in the history of motorsports joining with WorldSBK’s concrete values. Motul is the perfect partner to develop our concept of brand experience, having proximity to the very DNA of production-based motorcycling.”

Motul-WorldSBK Logo

This is the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

Kawasaki has just unveiled their brand new superbike weapon, the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. Kawasaki has been somewhat quiet in the lead-up to the bikes official unveiling but what they’ve delivered looks very impressive – at least on paper. According to Kawasaki, the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R ABS is the highest performing, most track-focused sportbike available today for homologated racing use.

Looking at what Kawasaki has done, this bike has undergone a pretty major overhaul due to many small (and not so small) refinements and changes. The end result isn’t as big a leap from say the new R1 compared to the previous model but there still seems to be a lot of enhancements that accumulate to create what we now have.

One of the bigger changes relates to suspension and the use of what is called the Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF) – a first for a mass produced motorcycle. The main feature of the Showa BFF is that the design of the hydraulic system eliminates the pressure balance fluctuations typically found in conventional forks. With the BFF, the damping valves are located in one place – outside the fork legs in the damping force chamber. This allows the entire surface of the fork pistons to push the hydraulic fluid toward the valves in the damping force chamber, with nitrogen gas in the compression chamber pushing back against the oil, helping to maintain the balanced pressure inside the fork tube.

Compression and rebound damping are generated (and adjusted) completely independently from one another by the compression and rebound adjuster screws on the damping force chamber at the bottom of each leg. Locating the adjustment in this single place has resulted in a more focused design that greatly improves responsiveness. Spring preload adjustment is located on the top of each fork leg.

The rear shock absorber is a Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) unit that also resulted from joint development in World Superbike competition. Just like the forks, the rear shock has a separate damping force chamber that houses the compression and rebound damping adjusters. By separating them, it again allows the entire damping piston to focus on hydraulic fluid movement. There is also external spring preload adjustment. The result is increased traction and superior shock absorption.

The use of this new Showa system will probably have an immense impact on handling and we can’t wait to experience it. Adjustability with this new system is supposed to be second to none as well.

The other bit ticket item for the new Ninja ZX-10R is in the electronics department. Unlike Ducati, BMW and Yamaha who have pretty much adopted systems directly from Bosch, Kawasaki has worked in conjunction with Bosch to create proprietary algorithms that optimizes the electronic stability systems. The Kawasaki system uses a Bosch five-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) with software developed in-house, drawing on the experience of the Kawasaki Race Team’s World Superbike experience, making this application unique. For example, it takes the pitch and roll rate data measured by the IMU, and the ECU calculates the yaw rate, resulting in six-axis operation.

Kawasaki’s traction control system now has five modes instead of the previous three. Modes one and two are designed for a racer on the track. Mode three is designed for a dry circuit with high-grip tires. Mode four is intended for dry canyon roads or commuting, while mode five is programmed to suit wet circuit or street use.

A new addition with all the electronic aids is a cornering management function. It helps distribute optimum hydraulic pressure to the calipers based on the motorcycle’s lean/pitch angle. The result is reduction of the motorcycle’s tendency to stand up when applying the brakes in a turn on the track. Instead, the Ninja ZX-10R is better able to follow the rider’s intended line while slowing down for a difficult turn, rather than having the tendency to run wide.

There’s also launch control, engine braking control, engine power modes, an intillegent braking system that in conjunction with ABS helps to modulate brake pressure during sport riding and more.

The changes to the engine aren’t as big but they still will make an impact. Kawasaki hasn’t divulged officially the output of the bike but we’re hearing 207 hp. A lighter crankshaft, which allows quicker revving for improved throttle response and acceleration has been fitted. The benefit of that is also increased low and mid-range power output, which is appreciated when exiting a corner on the racetrack or on a favorite stretch of blacktop.

The crankshaft also has a new balancer, which is lighter and damps vibrations just as effectively. The crankshaft’s connecting rod journals have a new coating for reduced friction at high RPM.

The cylinder head has revised intake and exhaust ports. These have a straighter cross-section to allow better gas flow, contributing to the increased power output. Only the intake ports were polished on previous models, but the 2016 model also has polished exhaust ports to further increase power.

We could go on about all the changes but we’d be writing for hours. Below you can see a list of all the new additions along with our gallery.

  • More powerful 998cc in-line four-cylinder 16-valve engine
  • Lighter crankshaft allows quicker revving and increased low-mid-range power
  • Pistons, head design, camshaft profiles and air box for better response and power
  • Computer-controlled electronic throttle valve delivers precise control
  • Lightweight titanium exhaust system
  • Close-ratio, cassette-type transmission is ideally suited to racing and gives strong corner exit acceleration
  • Chassis with new steering head position, swingarm rigidity and length, longer wheelbase creates balanced handling
  • Front cowl provides better aerodynamics, improves high-speed handling, reduces rider buffeting
  • Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF) and Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) derived directly from World Superbike racing, first-time used on a mass-production motorcycle
  • Brembo M50 monobloc front calipers, 330mm Brembo rotors and master cylinder provide increased braking power, feel and heat dissipation
  • Electronics suite utilizes a Bosch five-axis IMU for KEBC Kawasaki Engine Braking Control, KLCM Kawasaki Launch Control Mode, KIBS Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System, Corner Management Function, S-KTRC Sport Kawasaki TRaction Control and KQS Kawasaki Quick Shifter
  • Kawasaki Racing Team-inspired KRT Edition color scheme combining Lime Green and Ebony paint

Yamaha Announces Return to World Superbike Championship

Yamaha Motor Europe has today announced that it will make a return to the WSBK championship next year after a five year hiatus. Spearheading the challenge will be 2014 World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli and 2013 British Superbike Champion Alex Lowes, both of course piloting the Yamaha YZF-R1.

The team will be formed in conjunction with Crescent Racing who currently use the Suzuki GSX-R1000 as their weapon of whoice and are the only UK-based team in WSBK. They have a 20-year racing history at both national and global level that features victories in the British Superbike Championship, World Superbike and MotoGP.

Yamaha Motor Europe will retain responsibility over racing strategy and technical development, as well as the rider agreements with Crescent’s hugely experienced, dedicated, technical and engineering racing personnel running the team’s operation at each of the Championship rounds.

“Having re-written the Supersport rule book and changed the game with the new YZF-R1, directly developed from Yamaha MotoGP technology, it was clear we would need to return to the World Superbike Championship to show the full potential of our new Superbike machine” said Yamaha Motor Europe Chief Operating Officer, Eric De Seynes. “We took one year to grow experience with the new R1 in many other championships where the bike has shown its potential already, with the amazing 8H of Suzuka victory and the very positive results that our official Teams are gathering all around Europe. Now we are ready to be back on the world stage and I am happy we have found in Crescent the same values of professionalism, engineering detail and passion for victory we share.”

Frenchman Guintoli has over 15 years experience in racing, with 45 podiums, 10 race wins and, of course, the 2014 world title to his credit – in classes spanning 250cc, MotoGP, British Superbike and World Superbike. While young British rider Lowes took 20 podiums, 8 wins and 6 pole positions on his way to his 2013 British Superbike title. He has also competed with Crescent for the last two seasons so is no stranger to the team or the WSBK series.

With Kawasaki preparing to release a new ZX-10 for the 2016 season and the potential for Suzuki to sell update their GSX-R1000, it looks like next year’s WSBK season will be one of the most competitive yet.

Yamaha Announces Return to World Superbike Championship

 

 

Kawasaki Confirms All New ZX-10R for 2016

As we reported in late July, Kawasaki is releasing a heavily upgraded ZX-10R in an effort to keep up with recently updated models from Yamaha, Aprilia and Ducati. While Kawasaki are leading the WSBK, the bike isn’t doing as well in the showroom and the Japanese manufacturer obviously feels that they need to bring the bike up to spec in the face of stiffer competition.

According to Kawasaki’s press release, the main modifications to the bike consist of major upgrades to the suspension system and brakes. This no doubt will mean the adoption of electronic suspension components and cornering ABS as seen from the competition. Ironically however, all those technologies aren’t allowed in WSBK.

 

“This is not a “clean sheet” design as the current Ninja ZX-10R is such a good base to develop from”, commented Project Leader for KHI, Yoshimoto Matsuda. “With the new model we have focused our development resources on an overall engineering and performance improvement. We are proud of the result; it means a significant advance in terms of both chassis and engine performance as well as providing the platform to introduce new, state of the art rider aids and other technology.

“The input the KHI development team has received from the Kawasaki Racing Team, and riders, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes has created what we are sure many will feel is the most competitive and potent Ninja ZX-10R yet. A motorcycle equally at home on the race track or as a highly responsive daily riding road machine.”’

There’s unlikely to be much in the way of changes to the engine which already produces a shade under 200hp, but expect some styling changes that may pay a bit of homage to the Ninja H2. Full details on the bike will be released next month.

Kawasaki Confirms All New ZX-10R for 2016

All New 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10 Confirmed

It’s been confirmed that Kawasaki will be releasing a brand new ZX-10 Superbike before the end of the year. The current generation Kawasaki ZX-10 hasn’t had any real updates since 2011 when it was last overhauled and is coming under increasing competition – both on the track and in showrooms – from other updated machines including the Yamaha R1 and Aprilia RSV4 which were both updated this year.

The news comes from Guim Roda who heads up Kawasaki’s World Superbike team. Despite the current generation ZX-10 looking quite old next to some of the competition, Team Kawasaki Racing is leading the champion with Jonathan Rea in first and Tom Sykes in second. Kawasaki obviously doesn’t want to chance its domination and hence its decision to try and keep ahead of the curve.

“We will have a new Kawasaki ZX-10R in 2016. The concept will be the same but, with some details and changes, it will be even more competitive” said Roda. “Given that the current rules are very restricted, the motorbikes have to be developed with an eye on the sport. We are heading on a path that Aprilia, Ducati and BMW have already taken for this year by bringing out new bikes.”

Despite domination on the track, it’s at the dealership where it really counts and here Kawasaki is losing a bit of ground. While updated bikes like the BMW S1000R and Panigale 1299 don’t exactly attract the same type of buyer due to their price, it’s expected that Suzuki will also be soon updating their now ancient GSX-R1000.

So what shape will the 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10 take? It probably won’t be a revolutionary overhaul given the DNA is pretty spot on at the moment. Kawasaki will probably take the opportunity to boost power moderately, but the big changes will be in the form of advanced electronics that all updated bikes have been receiving.

That will likely include semi-active suspension (which will accompany the existing Öhlins electronic steering damper) as used on the new R1 and Panigale, as well an internal gyroscopic unit for cornering GPS – both of which ironically aren’t allowed in WSBK anyway.

The other big change will likely be in looks – expect the new ZX-10 to take strong styling cues from the Ninja H2. Given how desirable the H2 is, it makes sense for Kawasaki to build on that and no doubt will provide a big boost to sales. Expect an official release later this year.

All New 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10 Confirmed

2015 Panigale R – Ducati’s Homologated World Superbike

While the 2015 Panigale R was announced late last year in all it’s technical glory, it’s only now that Ducati has unveiled the machine to the public. While not looking altogether different from the ‘standard’ 1299 Panigale and Panigale S, it does have a few distinguishing features in line with Ducati’s WSBK entry.

We’ve discussed in detail the amazing specifications of the new 2015 Ducati Panigale range before. While Yamaha has taken a lot of the spotlight for its brilliant new R1, the all new Panigale is another step forward (which you have to pay handosmely for). In Ducati’s own words, the Panigale R is as close to a WSBK bike that they’ve ever released before. The 2015 Ducati Panigale R produces 205 hp (150.8 kW) but weighs only 184 kg (406 lb) – making it in our estimation the best power to weight ratio of any production bike currently available.

The Panigale R is the homologated base for Ducati’s World Superbike machines and is essentially a road-legal race bike with indicators and lights. Fitted with the 1198 cm3 Superquadro engine, thus falling within Superbike displacement limits, it boasts titanium intake and exhaust valves and rods, two-ring pistons and an extremely lightweight crankshaft which is balanced with tungsten inserts, to guarantee a maximum power of 205 hp at 11,500 revs/minute and a torque of 136.2 Nm at 10,250 rpm.

The new electronic kit offers three different riding modes, along with an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), Cornering ABS, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) and Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) which now works also during down-changing. According to Ducati, the Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) and the Engine Brake Control (EBC) have been optimized by an automatic calibration system which allows for easy changes in tire size and final drive ratio.

One thing the Panigale R misses out on is electronic suspension that is found on the 1299 Panigale S – this is because it’s not allowed in WSBK. In its place is top of the line Öhlins mechanical suspension, 4-position adjustable swingarm pivot and the same electronic technology as the 1299 Panigale, as well as a lithium ion battery which means a reduction in weight of over 2 kg, making it a total of 6 kg lighter than the 1199 Panigale R.

 

MV Agusta F4 RC Is Motorcycle Art

The MV Agusta F4 RC is now officially announced and with it we’ve got a swag of images of this beautiful machine. While we’ve pretty much learned all there is to know about the F4 RC in previous leaks, seeing it in all its high definition glory is a bonus and provides a look at a few more details. MV Agusta’s motto is ‘Motorcycle Art’ and looking at the F4 RC, it’s hard to argue. Magnifico!

Just 250 machines will be available for sale worldwide though given the price, that won’t be an issue. Save for things like headlights, license plate holder, indicators and the seemingly redundant rear passenger foot pegs, the design is pretty much identical to its racetrack brother. The livery will match that of the race bike save for race number on the front and lower fairing which you can choose yourself.

Because this is essentially a race bike that’s been homologated to meet WSBK rules, the F4 RC doesn’t have electronic suspension despite it’s hefty price tag. But that doesn’t mean it’s not heavily customizable.  The front fork is a TiN-coated Ohlins USD NIX 30 with separate hydraulic adjustment of compression (left stanchion) and rebound (right stanchion), plus spring pre-load adjustment. At the rear there is an Ohlins TTX 36 shock absorber with piggy back reservoir: manual compression/rebound adjustment is effected via the anodized aluminium knobs. Similarly, the steering damper, also made by Ohlins, can be mechanically adjusted too.

Made of forged aluminium alloy, the wheels have been designed and built exclusively for this model. Even the battery – a light lithium (Li-Po) 12.8 V 4 Ah unit – is model-specific. Foot controls are also new: peg positions are adjustable and the shift lever features a sensor for fast gear changes.

The F4 RC comes in below the F4 RR’s weight by 7 kg, but also comes with a track kit (i.e. not street legal) that reduces weight by a further 6 kg, making total weight savings of 13 kg – an impressive amount given the F4 RR only weighs 190 kg dry to begin with. The race kit includes:

  • Termignoni exhaust system in titanium, with carbon fiber heat guard;
  • Dedicated control unit;
  • Carbon fiber rear seat cowl for single-seater use
  • Quick-release tank cap
  • Red anodized Ergal plugs to be applied after removal of rear view mirrors

It’s a stunning machine, both in appearance and in technology. MV Agusta is continuing to impress us with every new release and despite this one being out of most people’s price range, it’s another worthy addition to the Italian brand’s stable.

 

Final Production Design of MV Agusta F4 RC Revealed

The MV Agusta F4 RC, now the world’s most official unofficially announced motorcycle has been spotted at a bike show in Madrid, Spain. It looks pretty much exactly how it has in previously leaked pictures but now comes with the same decals and graphics as the WSBK bike it’s derived from, including AMG logos. Of note is that in some of the pictures, the rear passenger pegs have been removed (possibly the most frivolous use of rear pegs we’ve seen in a while).

The MV Agusta F4 RC (Reparto Corse, which means Racing Department in English) is the homologation of the company’s entrant into World Superbikes and other domestic series, though it’s supposed $46,000 price tag will mean it’s limited production run won’t be oversold. From previous rumors and reports, the bike’s specifications will be as follows:

  • Dry Weight at 175 kg
  • Titanium exhaust
  • Carbon fibre rear seat cover
  • Aluminium mirror caps kit
  • Lighter crankshaft
  • Redesigned cylinder head
  • Magnesium covers
  • Titanium screws
  • Carbon fiber fairings
  • Forged wheels
  • Ohlins suspensions
  • Li-on battery

Performance specifications from the four-cylinder 998 cc engine are reported to be 212 horsepower at 13,600 rpm (best in class for the street) and an arm wrenching 111 Nm torque at 9,600 rpm. Yummy.

The release date for the F4 RC is expected around June this year.