BMW recalls thousands of motorcycles for brake check

The German manufacturer is recalling six models manufactured between August 2006 and May 2009 in the latest scare to strike a global automotive company.
Around 6,600 motorcycles in the UK are effected by the recall.
No accidents have been reported in relation to the fault, BMW said, and only a small number of complaints have been received.

Nonetheless, the recall, which accounts for roughly a third of BMW motorcycles produced during the period in question, is the second to strike the company in the last two years. A similar fault was identified in 2008, but a BMW spokesman accepted modifications to the brake fluid lines had failed to eradicate problems.

Letters received by British owners of the bikes said vibrations could cause the front brake lines to develop leaks that could allow brake fluid to escape. In a worst case scenario, this could lead to a failure of the front brakes.

According to the company, the fault effects one in 1,000 vehicles. The models recalled include the R 1200 GS Adventure model, the R 1200 GS, the R 1200 R, the R 1200 RT, the R 1200 ST and the K 1200 GT.
BMW, which owns the Mini and Rolls-Royce car brands, sold 20,840 motorcycles in the first quarter of 2010, compared to 265,809 cars.

Shares in the company were unmoved by the recall on Tuesday, as they gained 2.42pc on the Frankfurt market.

The recall by BMW comes just months after Toyota was forced to recall more than 8.5m cars globally and became engulfed in crisis. Billions of dollars were wiped off the Japanese company's market value as US authorities called for an investigation and eventually fined it $16.4m (£11.4m) for being slow to deal with faulty vehicles. Toyota paid the fine on Tuesday.

Article from the Telegraph

Jorge Lorenzo wins in Le Mans

Spaniards won all three categories

There was another full Spanish podium in the French Motorbike Grand Prix on Sunday at Le Mans, with Jorge Lorenzo on his Yamaha winning the Moto GP category. It’s his second consecutive win and consolidates his lead in the Drivers’ Championship. He is now nine points clear of Valentino Rossi. Dani Pedrosa ended fifth after spening most of the race in third position.

Toni Elias won in Moto2 ahead of Simón and is now leader, while the Spanish were also dominant in 125 with a win for Pol Espargaró.

Old-School - An Electric Enfield


The Volta 102 is not your typical motorcycle. But James Hammarhead is not your typical motorcycle builder.
Hammarhead is a clinical neuropsychiatrist and expert in fMRI paradigm design. When he isn’t doing research at University of Pennsylvania, you’ll find him riding an old-school motorcycle or wrenching on an old-school motorcycle. He’s got a thing for British bikes and usually has a project in the works.

That passion for vintage iron led him to launch Hammarhead Industries, a boutique builder creating retro British bikes with a twist.

And, in one case, a cord.

Hammarhead (a mashup of his last name and his wife’s last name) goes by his given name James Loughead in the academic world. The Volta 102 that he built in just three months is one in a growing field of electric street bikes but the first to go retro.

The old-school aesthetic follows Hammerhead Industries’ mission statement, which comes down to “keep it simple, stupid.” Hammarhead isn’t interested in fuel injection or ABS or carbon fiber components. His love affair with minimalism was cemented riding a Royal Enfield through India. The bike was elemental and irresistable.

“That sealed it,” he says. “I decided I was interested in going into smaller, more simple bikes.”


The Volta started as a 2005 Royal Enfield Bullet 500, a modern take on a ’50s classic. It was ideal because the simple steel frame was roomy enough for an electric drivetrain. The Bullet’s engine is a stressed member, so Hammarhead had to fabricate a subframe, but the conversion was straightforward.

“I wanted to do it as a a vintage conversion,” he says of the Volta. “The thing about vintage bikes that makes them so attractive is they’re simple, they’re robust and they’re durable. And that is just as green as alternative fuel.”

The Volta uses an EnerTrac hub motor. It makes 10 kilowatts (13.4 horsepower) continuous and 30 kilowatts (40 horsepower) peak. That’s a big jump over the Bullet’s 18 ponies. Both the Volta and the Bullet weigh 368 pounds, so the conversion made the bike faster. The motor is, in theory, capable of 118 mph. Hammarhead is shooting for somewhere around 100.

You’d think the unsprung weight of a 45-pound motor would bugger the handling. But Hammarhead says it isn’t an issue “because we’re not at the edge of the performance envelope.” The motor was designed for motorcycles and scooters, so durability isn’t a concern, says Mark Gelbien, the guy who designed it.

The lithium iron phosphate battery pack is rated at 6 kilowatts. It has 32 cells but can take as many as 36 to increase range or power. Hammarhead says it’s good for 50 to 70 miles, depending upon how hard you’re flogging the bike. The fake fuel tank houses two 110-volt, 15-amp chargers that will charge the battery in four hours. An external charger drawing 110 volts at 20 amps does it in two.

Regenerative braking returns energy to the pack, and you can dial it in anywhere from 10 to 90 percent. Hammarhead says the system “works and feels like engine braking.” Hammarhead built the bike with off-the-shelf parts to ensure reliability.

“The first goal was making it robust,” he says. “We didn’t want bleeding-edge technology.”
He’s taken the Volta out for a few runs through Philadelphia and says the bike “is a blast to ride. It is nearly silent and has that ‘lazy’ handling of the [internal combustion] Enfield.”

Hammarhead unveiled the Volta, along with the Woodsman 500 and Jack Pine, April 16 at a gallery in Philadelphia. The Jack Pine, a riff on the Triumph Scrambler, got the most attention but the Volta got some love too. The first Volta is a prototype that Hammerhead is still refining, but he plans to build as many as three more this year and five next year.

They aren’t cheap at $18,500 and Hammarhead knows the Volta is a niche bike. That’s the point. He says filling a niche will be the only way to survive once the big manufacturers make the startups building electric superbikes and dirtbikes irrelevant.

“This will all be moot when Honda and Yamaha and KTM introduce their electric bikes,” he said. “And they will. They’re waiting for the market to turn, and it will.”

Hammarhead is planning a more conventional electric motorcycle with an upright riding position. He’s also kicking around the idea of a biodiesel bike. He’ll always love retro rides but says alt fuel is the future.
“I’m passionate about all motorcycles,” he says. “But the future of our sport, and our industry, is in bikes that are efficient, bikes that are quiet and bikes that use alternative fuels.”

My new F-Word (thats fast!) Gordon Ramsay tests Triumph motorbike

The high-octane chef goes from Hell's Kitchen to Hell's Angel on Triumph's Thunderbird cruiser

Gordon Ramsay on Triumph's Thunderbird cruiser
Gordon Ramsay on Triumph's Thunderbird cruiser

I grew up with a love of bikes, scrambling in the back garden and across the fields of Stratford-upon-Avon on an 80cc Suzuki that I shared with a friend. Funnily enough, the one rule my dad gave me before I left home was 'Don't get a motorbike' - so of course that was the first thing I did when I left home. 

When I came back from my training in France I got a Yamaha FZR 1000 Genesis, then a Ducati 748, then a Honda Fireblade - a ridiculous death machine - followed by a Yamaha R1 and a Ducati 1098S. Now I've got a 200hp Ducati Desmosedici RR in the garage, which is definitely for the track only. By contrast, this Triumph Thunderbird is calm and collected. 

Triumph has been the sleeping beauty of the bike industry. For years people were obsessed with speed, but recently they've started looking for a bit more sophistication and class. The Thunderbird 1600 is handmade in Leicestershire, so it appeals to my patriotism and sense of nostalgia. I saw the Thunderbird when it was in development, and even then I thought it was a work of art. 

The stainless steel is brilliantly eye-catching: black and silver go so well together. I love the attention to detail - the guard on the back of the belt drive is extraordinarily well made. It's very curvaceous, very sexy. It's not the least bit flashy; it's classy. There's a big di fference. On the road, the first thing that hits you is how smooth it is - it's got a Rolls-Royce glide. It purrs.

Triumph's Thunderbird cruiser

To test any new bike out, I like to go down the A3, then west along the M27. We've got a house on the River Test in Romsey, Hampshire - a lovely little place right next to a pub. So Tana went down in the car with the kids and I went on the bike. It isn't the kind of bike you want to sit in city tra ffic with - it doesn't lend itself to that; it's too heavy - so from Romsey I took it on a nice A-road jaunt through the countryside, down to Bournemouth, Poole and Swanage.

Then I hooked up with my mum's partner Jimmy and my brother-in-law. We're a biking gang, like a mini Hell's Angels. We rode down to Devon and back up the A303 and we felt like 25-year-olds. 

The bike's suspension is soft, but I was impressed with the cornering. Usually the raked front end on a cruiser is a problem when you're in a slow turn, so you have to wrestle with it - but not on this. Also, unlike most cruisers its two cylinders are parallel, not V-shaped. They give a great thump when you open up the throttle and loads of low-down torque. And yet it doesn't burn too much fuel. It's clearly designed for the roads in America, where Triumph sells a quarter of its bikes. But I have to admit, when I'm in America I ride a Harley. 

The best biking road in the world is either the Pacific Coast Highway or the road from LA to Vegas. I like to ride fast, but you have to be careful. In California, the police will book you as soon as look at you. 

Biking gives me a sense of freedom and escape. Everyone goes on about shooting, but what do I want to shoot a pheasant for? 

I can't think of anything more boring. I want speed. I've done in excess of 195mph on a track. Never on a road. When I'm in my leathers and helmet, I feel completely free and in charge of my world. It's good for your mental state when everything else is pressure and demands. There's no phone, no BlackBerry, no food critic on the back seat. You're away.

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