Showing posts with label 2000s Motorcycles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2000s Motorcycles. Show all posts

Cagiva V-Raptor

Cagiva V-Raptor 2000s Italian sports bike

The V-Raptor was a benchmark bike for Cagiva. It is fair to say that the Cagiva name does not have quite the same cachet as, say, Ducati or MV Agusta. But - back in the day - Cagiva owned both. And, add Aermacchi Harley-Davidson to the list, too. Indeed, it was in the latter's old factory - in Varese, Italy - that Cagiva's wheels were set in motion. Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni were its founding fathers. The V-Raptor, then, signalled a return to form for the firm.

The V-Raptor was designed by Miguel Galluzzi. Previously, he had penned the Ducati Monster. A 996cc V-twin engine was 'borrowed' from Suzuki's TL1000S. It was duly dropped into Galluzzi's creation. The result was a good-looking bike - with a top speed of 150mph. Especially striking, from a styling perspective, was the bike's raptor-like fairing. Galluzzi could not have bettered its resemblance to a bird of prey's beak!

Relatively small manufacturer that it was, Cagiva made a big impact on Nineties bike racing. Certainly, it was far from afraid to square up to Japan's 'big four' teams. In '92 and '93, Cagiva were winning blue-riband races. American rider John Kocinski, for example, won his home GP on a Cagiva. At one point - in '94 - the team led the World Championship standings. Mighty impressive, given the opposition. Sadly, the same year saw them retire from racing. Financial gremlins lobbed an impeccably clean spanner in the works. In road-going form, though, Cagiva motorcycles continued to impress. The V-Raptor, in particular, was given a rapturous thumbs-up by bikers worldwide!

KTM Adventure 990

KTM Adventure 990 2000s Austrian sports bike

The KTM Adventure 990 was made in Austria. Produced between 2006-13, it was designed to be dual-purpose. The Adventure was equally at home both on and off road. At least, that is what the marketing men said! Its engine - the LC8 liquid-cooled 4-stroke 75° V-twin - was tailor-made for rough terrain. Power output was 105bhp. Capacity was 999cc - to be precise. With a dry weight of 461lb, the Adventure maxed out at 123mph - on flat tarmac!

R & D for the Adventure was the Paris-Dakar Rally. Lessons learned from that hotbed of competition trickled down to the roadster. Probably not too much pre-release testing was needed after that! The Adventure's long-travel suspension came courtesy of Dutch masters WP. The flexible tubular steel frame was almost identical to that on the 950 desert racer. So, indeed, were many other parts. Fabrizio Meoni sat tall in the saddle. He won two of the three Paris-Dakars preceding the Adventure's release. Not a bad sales pitch!

Styling-wise, the Adventure was supermodel svelte. But, a model that packed a punch! At 6,750 rpm, no less than 100 N-m of torque was on tap. And - thanks to its chromium-molybdenum trellis frame - the Adventure rolled with the punches, too. Anything that less than snooker-table smooth green lanes could throw at it, anyway! As far as all-round capabilities go, then, the KTM Adventure 990 was about as kitted-out as a motorbike gets!

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R 2000s Japanese sports bike

The letter 'Z' - on a Kawasaki motorbike - has long denoted high-performance. The Ninja ZX-6R - released in '03 - was a case in point. A race-bred riot on two wheels, it had a licence to thrill. As uncompromising as bikes come, the ZX-6R made 116bhp. Much of that was thanks to its ram-air system. Top speed was 160mph. Not bad for a 636cc capacity machine. The fact that the ZX-6R weighed in at just 354lb helped account for its awesome acceleration.

When it came to keeping all that power in line, the ZX-6R's chassis was well up to the job. Twin radial front brake callipers were there, if needed. They were directly derived from Kawasaki's race programme. As were the ZX-6R's thinly-padded seats … definitely not designed for comfort! That said - crouched racing-style atop the plot - rider and pillion were well-placed to help steer the beast. The lack of leverage from the stubby 'bars made hanging off through corners a requirement. To some degree, at least. That is an art to be acquired with caution! But - with weight distribution correctly addressed - the Ninja gave high-precision handling.

Just as the letter 'Z' can say so much when it is a Kawasaki, so can a colour. Every hue and shade in the spectrum has bedecked a motorbike, at some time or other. But seldom with the impact of lime-green. Since the heyday of the 'Green Meanies', the colour has adorned many a production Kawasaki. They were the evil-handling H2R race bikes the firm sent out onto Seventies circuits. Certainly, lime-green suited the ZX-6R. Green has been said by some to bring bad luck to a motorcycle. If so, it was not the case with the Ninja. The ZX-6R restored Kawasaki's status as sports bike supremos. 'Z-Bikes' have long been integral to the marque. Fast, dynamic, exciting? Always. Zzzzz? Never!

Buell Firebolt XB9R

Buell Firebolt XB9R 2000s American sports bike

When it came to the Firebolt XB9R, Buell had broad shoulders to stand on. Harley-Davidson is a hugely successful brand. It is therefore well-placed to lend a helping hand to those lower down the pecking order, should it care to do so. To the likes of, say, Buell - who were given permission to transplant Harley's iconic V-twin into their own creations. Not that Harley was losing out. Erik Buell - founder of his firm - was a kingpin of innovation. Harley no doubt hoped some of his boundless ingenuity would rub off on their own marque. In marketing terms, at least!

Erik Buell was a Harley man through and through. He had been both an engineer and racer for them. He was uniquely positioned, then, to conceive and construct the RR1000 - a Harley-powered race bike. As is so often the case, success at the racetrack led to a road-going sequel. The Buell RS1200 featured a vibe-reducing rubber-mounting set-up. It was also fitted with a radical rear shock. Horizontally slung beneath the engine, it was both technically, and visually, arresting. It was in '93 that the 'big time' beckoned for Buell. Harley took out a 49% shareholding in the company. That was later increased. With Harley-Davidson at the helm, Buell was set fair. Exciting products were sure to follow. Erik Buell's singular vision of how a motorcycle could be built - rather than how it should be built - was always a key factor.

The Firebolt, then, was in a roster of radical bikes built by Buell. It was released in '02. Its most conventional component was its motor. That was a tuned 984cc Sportster powerplant. After that, Buell departed from the Harley script. The Firebolt's frame spars, for instance, were also its 'fuel tank'. Likewise, its swing-arm held the oil. Those chassis parts were forged from light aluminium. Bizarre as they sound, such 'double acts' harked back to motorcycling's classic era. What was indisputably 'new skool' was the Firebolt's front brake disc. Comprised of an ornately-fashioned 'ring', it was fixed to the wheel's rim, rather than its hub. On the subject of braking, top speed for the Firebolt was 130mph. Handling was impeccable - courtesy of the chassis wizardry. Cue plaudits, then, for Erik Buell - clearly, a man at one with his craft. The Firebolt XB9R came right out of the biking blue ... and shot a surge of creativity into the world of motorcycle design!