The Motorcycle Industry has been more or less stagnant in past few years, especially since the Financial meltdown of 2008. It has taken the big players like, Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki to recuperate the losses that occurred during the period. However, 2014 brought to us motorcycle lovers what we have been desperately craving for, the coming back of age of manufacturers trying to go one up than their competition.
At EICMA 2014 we saw, the gigantic leap by team green when they astound the world with their outer world-ly spaceship inspired Super-Charged behemoth, The Kawasaki Ninja H2R and its street legal sibling, the Kawasaki Ninja H2. Yamaha was in no mood to be left behind and brought a much awaited all new Yamaha YZF-R1 to the market, and with it came a homologation special track only YZF-R1M. Ducati showed their Electronic Aid Marvel and a gorgeously designed update to incredible 1199 Panigale in the form of the new 1299 Panigale.
2014 will be known as the year in which almost all the iconic models in the litre class superbike segment from their respective manufacturers broke the 200 bhp mark fair and square. 2014 was indeed a year that will be remembered in the history as the year, everything changed. It was year when Ducati brought back its Iconic Scrambler, it was the year when Kawasaki broke the barrier and chartered the forced induction technology for motorcycles and it was the year in which the spectacularly awesome motorcycles like the KTM RC390 came to change the way small displacement motorcycles are viewed in the motorcycling spectrum of the world.
Trust us when we say this, we have been salivating over the 2015 litre bike prospects. With no less than eight new bleeding-edge sportbikes on the table from both European and Japanese manufacturers, the bar is being raised in the quest for track domination or, in the case of the Kawasaki H2 and H2R, simply having the rider experience intense acceleration like they’ve never felt before. However, there’s an interesting trend in the method in which each manufacturer is going about upping the litre bike ante. More and more, a greater emphasis is placed on technology and electronics rather than hardware. Sure, hardware isn’t being ignored, but with today’s bikes making so much power, being able to harness it effectively is of utmost importance.
What we were gifted in the year 2014 are 8 motorcycles eyeing for the Superbike world Supremacy. They are: the Aprilia RSV4 RR and RF, BMW S1000RR, Ducati 1299 Panigale and 1299 Panigale S, Kawasaki Ninja H2 and Yamaha R1 and R1M.
Things we could not ignore and they are the interesting bits -
To start off, it’s remarkable that the 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale pistons are a gargantuan 116mm. The displacement bump to 1285cc is a welcome sight, but almost everyone expected Ducati to increase stroke in the already highly oversquare Superquadro engine. From there, the next development is the race to 200 crankshaft horsepower. The two Italian brands are the only ones who claim to have exceeded that mark, though the BMW, Kawasaki and Yamaha are so close it’s understandable if one decides to round up.
In the case of the Kawasaki, it’s plausible to think Team Green was being a bit conservative, considering the H2R, whose engine is largely similar to the H2, is claimed to put out 300 hp. Of note is the fact 2015 Aprilia RSV4 Factory uses a relatively high 13.6:1 compression ratio to help meet the 200 hp target, while the Kawasaki H2 uses just 8.5:1 to cope with the added boost from the supercharger. More importantly, the H2 should trounce the other four-cylinders in the torque department, bested only by the larger Ducati Twin, at least according to the factory claims.
Of course, the real talking point here is the proliferation of electronics. Each bike comes equipped with power modes and traction control as standard equipment. ABS also comes standard on all the bikes, but Ducati and Yamaha both get bonus points for equipping the new 1299 Panigale and the (linked, IMU controlled) R1/R1M with forms of Cornering ABS, which can reduce the risk of falling should you need to grab a handful while leaned over. This is made possible via an Inertial Measurement Unit, or IMU, which is equipped on both the Ducati and Yamaha. With the ability to measure parameters like pitch, roll, yaw, and a G-sensor to track acceleration fore-aft, up-down and left-right, Ducati uses the IMU to interface with the ABS, wheelie control and Ohlins electronic suspension on the 1299 Panigale S. Yamaha doesn’t outright claim the R1 and R1M has the Cornering ABS function, however, it does claim the pressure provided to the ABS and UBS (Unified Braking System) is determined from readings given from the IMU.
Another cool feature is the ability to downshift without the clutch, which is standard on the Ducati and optional on the S1000RR. Being able to keep your hands firmly on the bars for both upshifting and downshifting means a rider will be able to focus more on the road or track ahead, and less on rev matching and being smooth with the clutch.
Moto GP awesomeness finally arrived for The Masses -
Perhaps the biggest winner in the technology battle for 2015 is Yamaha. While Kawasaki relentlessly teased the world with countless H2 and H2R videos, the Yamaha R1 and R1M brings to the table a stunning package of Moto GP-derived tech. It takes traction control a step further with banking-sensitive TC, and raises the bar yet again with its slide control function. The R1M utilizes the IMU to allow the electronic Ohlins suspension to automatically adjust rebound and compression damping, in real time, to the street or track conditions.
All but the H2 have some sort of data logging capability, but the R1M really impresses with its exclusive Communication Control Unit. Using the CCU and GPS antenna, running data can be recorded via a data logger, with track mapping and lap times managed by GPS. That information can then be transferred to an Android or iOS app, and after analyzing the data, setting changes can be made and uploaded to the R1M via WiFi. It’s an amazing bit of technology unheard of before.
We will in coming days, will be updating you all in our technology section regarding all these technologies that came to the mass produced motorcycle in the year 2014. We welcome you all to this year Exciting year of 2015 where the Motorcycle technology will even go further.