RETRO MOTORBIKES

THE BEST RETRO MOTORBIKES:

Kawasaki Z900RS

Kawasaki Z900RS For Sale 

Brand new for 2018 the Kawasaki Z900RS is a bit of a game changer and is truly a work of art.

It’s based on the slightly more angry Z900 but has a de-tuned engine, wheels designed to look a bit like wire spokes, a retro style seat, a modern LED headlight disguised as a traditional light and a blacked out engine with machined mock engine cooling fins.

At first glance it looks like a traditional pair of clocks but nestled between them is a modern inverted LCD dash with all the info you would expect from a modern bike. Read the review.

All in all it’s a lot of bike for the money and there is also a cafe racer version available in the Z900RS Cafe.

BMW R nineT

BMW R nineT For Sale 

Launched in 2017 the BMW R nineT isn’t cheap but looks great, makes a statement and oozes quality.

The pillion frame is easily detachable for a solo look or you can opt for the pillion hump with hidden storage compartment and the Boxer engine is tried and tested, with a design that keeps the weight low down. Read the review.

There’s also a cheaper version available in the Pure and a cafe racer version or you can customise it in almost unlimited ways to create your dream bike. 

Triumph Speed Twin

Triumph Speed Twin For Sale 

Powered by the legendary Thruxton High Power engine the new Speed Twin is like a sportier version of the popular T120, with some weight lopped off and cooler mirrors.

It can be massively customised using the Triumph parts catalogue and should sell really well. Read the review.

Triumph Bonneville T120

Triumph Bonneville T120 For Sale 

It doesn’t get more retro than the incredibly popular T120 and like the Speed Twin customisation potential is massive. Read the review.

Honda CB1000R

Honda CB1000R For Sale 

The highly anticipated 2018 CB1000R is perhaps the odd one out on this list, both in power and looks.

The previous generation de-tuned Fireblade engine produces way more power than you need for the road at 143bhp, combined with looks that are genuinely somewhere between a modern naked bike and a modern retro bike.

There’s plenty of modern technology on offer but this bike is really all about the visual details and virtually all metal construction. Read the review.

Yamaha XSR900

Yamaha XSR900 For Sale 

Launched back in 2016 the Yamaha XSR900 is essentially the best selling MT-09 with a few mods to make it look a bit retro, in the way of a round headlight / tail light, curvier tank and quite a few parts blacked out.

That’s a good thing because the MT-09 is an excellent bike with nearly 50,000 sold in Europe before it received a small update for 2017.

The 60th anniversary yellow and black Speed Block edition looks particularly good. Read the review.

Triumph Street Twin

Triumph Street Twin For Sale 

The original 2016 Triumph Street Twin had a really classic look and was super learner friendly with a low 750mm seat, although not the lightest bike out there.

It should last a while though because it can be made A2 compliant with a restrictor and can be completely customised with Triumph’s massive parts catalogue.

For 2019 it gains 10bhp, a Brembo front caliper, better fork, ride modes, an improved seat with more padding, cool machined wheels and down pipes with a goldish finish.

Moto Guzzi V7 III

Moto Guzzi V7 III For Sale 

The V7 has been slowly evolving since 2008 and is very much about the way it looks and sounds, with quite a following and plenty of customisation options.

It’s also a little bit special because the engine is mounted at 90° to most other V-Twin bikes, ensuring you’ll stand out wherever you go and the shaft drive means easy maintenance. Read the review.

Ducati Scrambler Icon

Ducati Scrambler Icon For Sale 

The seemingly infinite flavours of the 803cc Scrambler were a sales success for Ducati so for 2018 they have updated the Icon with a new headlight, cornering ABS, lighter hydraulic clutch, gear position indicator and fuel gauge.

Honda Monkey

Honda Monkey For Sale 

Honda’s Monkey is new for 2018 and channels the styling of the original Z50 monkey bikes.

It’s actually just a Honda Grom in disguise but that’s no bad thing and it’s learner friendly with a really low wet weight, economical engine and low seat height. Read the review.

  • Engine: Single Cylinder
  • Capacity: 125 cc
  • Power: 9.3 bhp
  • Licence: A1
  • Seat Height: 776 mm
  • Wet Weight: 107 kg

How Did We Rank Our Top Ten?

We looked at all the best retro bikes you can buy new and picked the top contenders, taking into account style, power, technology and value for money.

WHAT IS A RETRO MOTORBIKE?

What is a retro motorbike?

Most of the retro models you can buy today started life as a naked bike which has been modified to look more traditional, but without sacrificing all the modern tech and riding experience you would expect from a new bike.

They usually feature a single round headlight, simpler rounded clocks, stitched seats, more subtle colour schemes, rounded exhausts, loads of optional shiny bits and often wire spoked wheels or cast wheels designed to look a little bit like spokes from a distance.

Closely related are modern cafe racers which tend to start life as retro bikes but with the addition of low bars, a headlight fairing and pillion seat hump. They are bang on trend right now.

JENSON INTERCEPTOR

10 Unusual Jensen Interceptor facts and tips. Ten things you need to know about… The Jensen Interceptor – an executive grand tourer that’s still attracting fans. The good news is that Interceptors are at long last being appreciated as true classics. The bad news is that they cost a fortune to run and prices for these V8 powered Grand Tourers are accelerating fast. Words Andrew Everett.


THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT… THE JENSEN INTERCEPTOR

For so long undervalued – the Jensen Interceptor fell in with cars like the Triumph Stag and Reliant Scimitar inasmuch that they became a bit unfashionable and either unreliable or cost a fortune to run. The Interceptor with its Chrysler V8 was horrific on fuel – you won’t see much more than 10mpg overall, 12 if you’re lucky and 15 on a long run. That made them dodgy used cars in the ‘Seventies when they got old and ropey and in the ‘Eighties, they were worth buttons, with very few cars being properly maintained. They sort of had a blip in the late ‘Eighties when all kinds of rubbish was dredged up and ‘restored’, fell out of bed again in the ‘Nineties and it’s only quite recently that they’ve begun to be worth proper money and thus worth restoring. Good cars start at around £40,000 with the all-wheel drive FF’s starting at around £60,000 and prices for minters can stretch to over £100,000 for these now very desirable models. The days when these were being sold for £10,000 are now long gone.

As a car, the Interceptor is a big old thing with a lot of torque from that Chrysler unit, it was always better than anything Ford or GM made, allied to a superb three-speed automatic. Convertible models appeared in 1974 and sold in the low hundreds but a lot of the Interceptor’s appeal is in the styling with that huge, wrap round rear screen.

DID YOU KNOW? 10 FACTS ABOUT YOUR CLASSIC

  1. The Interceptor was a pretty expensive car when new, but not outrageously so. When it arrived in 1966, the 6.3 litre, 140 mph car was priced at £3700 when an Aston DB6 cost £5000, an Iso Rivolta £5250 and a Gordon Keeble £4000. However, the Elephant in the room was the 4.2 litre Jaguar E-Type FHC at just £2100 with similar on-paper performance but not as effortless as the Jensen.
  2. When the Mark III appeared in 1971, the price difference was even more marked. By this time, the Interceptor was packing 7.2 litres from the latest Chrysler V8 although it gave less power and more torque. A 135mph top speed was similar to before but in 1974, the price of £7100 was still £1500 less than a BMW 3.0CSi E9 and £2500 less than the Aston Martin V8.
  3. Original production lasted 10 years, from 1966 to 1976. Jensen went bust in 1975 with the last original cars being built early the following year to use up stocks of parts. In 1989 an attempt was made to re-launch the car as a Mark IV and four years and 36 cars later, the company again went bust. The Interceptor was revived again in 2010, but this time completely rebuilding existing cars rather than produced brand new ones.
  4. Whilst most Interceptors used the Chrysler Torque-flite three-speed automatic, there were a few manual gearbox versions – but only 22 Series I cars. The Series II and III were virtually all automatics, although there was talk of a special build manual or two being produced – true or false? These days, you can convert to manual using either an expensive modern six-speed unit or an old Chrysler A-833 OD overdrive box.
  5. The original Interceptors were built by Vignale in Italy, but they required so much remedial work on arrival at the Jensen factory that the company later took production fully in house. This was ironic when Jensen lost the contract to build the original Volvo P1800 Coupé due to build quality problems. Certainly, the West Bromwich cars were decently built, but not always without paint quality issues.
  6. The Interceptor originally used the king pin type front suspension from the CV8 but this was changed to a new system with telescopic dampers and wishbones as well as revised Girling brakes replacing the original Dunlop types, plus radial tyres and standard power steering (at last). These modifications took place in mid-1969, around three months before the much-improved Interceptor MkII was launched.
  7. The Interceptor SP was launched in late 1971 as a higher performance model to compete with the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The 7.2 litre engine featured three twinchoke carburettors to develop 385bhp, this giving a 6.9 second 0-60 time and 145mph top speed. Not quite Aston Vantage fast but useful enough. Wider GKN alloy wheels, vinyl roof and bonnet louvres marked out the SP.
  8. However… The 1971 Interceptor MkIII also gained the new wheels and vinyl roof shortly after, meaning that you need to be sure an SP is the real thing and not a Series III with the six-pack carbs bolted on. Despite this, the Series III became the best selling of all the Interceptor models, with over 3400 cars leaving the West Bromwich factory between 1971 and 1976.
  9. The FF was the four-wheel drive model that ran alongside the Interceptor to 1971, being replaced by the Interceptor SP after 320 were built. Looking similar to the Interceptor, the FF had a four-inch longer wheelbase, a different chassis as well as different wings to accommodate the longer wheelbase. The vast majority were Series I and II cars, with the short run Series III being incredibly rare.
  10. One of the most famous Interceptors, the 1967 MkI registered 13SDV met it’s end in 2017. Unused since 1990, this blue Vignale built car sat outside the owners house in Leicestershire for 27 years and became something of a landmark. Sadly, when the time came for it to be sold it was so rotten that when it was moved, it literally broke apart and fell to bits. Will this car ever live again?

FORD RS OWNERS CLUB

Emma Balaam is living the dream. She’s the hub of operations for the RS Owners Club and proud owner of an immaculate Mk1 Ford Escort Mexico.

Mk1 Escort Mexico

Ford: it’s a family thing

“I’ve always been into cars, though it’s been something that has ramped up,” admits Emma before elaborating. “My Dad used to work for Ford – he was at Dagenham for 45 years – so that seed was sown pretty early on. My fondest memories are being picked up from school by my grandparents in their yellow 1100L Mk1 Escort.

 Things got really interesting when I settled down and got married…

“As I got older I had lots of cars on Ford Options [a finance deal Ford once offered]. Nothing sporty or anything, Ka and Fiesta, not ‘classic’ stuff. It was never really a major passion, I was just a casual fan of the brand.

“Things got really interesting when I settled down and got married,” explains Emma. “My partner had a lot of cars; he’s been in the RSOC [Ford RS Owners Club] for 27 years now. My passion for cars grew alongside his existing interest; it comes from the support of two people sharing a passion. If you’re both into something, it becomes that much more fulfilling.”

Mk1 Escort Mexico

The hot hatches cometh

Soon after they married, Emma got her own RS. And it was a corker: a car that is highly coveted these days.

“My first RS was an Escort RS1600i,” she beams. “It was a restoration project for me and my husband to dive into, but it never came to fruition.”

As so often happens, life got in the way and the RS took a back seat as new babies and car restorations seldom go hand in hand.

“I never drove it!” she exclaims. “It was nearly finished, but with a baby and the expensive restoration, it had to go. I just wanted something I could get into and drive, so we sold the RS1600i to someone who could give it the time and attention it deserved.”

That wasn’t the end of the RS dream though, as the proceeds from the RS1600i went towards buying another Escort. This time it was a Mk6 RS2000 4×4 – again, a car whose rarity makes it very sought after. But rarity wasn’t going to stop Emma from driving it. People carriers be damned, Emma was going to use the RS2000 as much as possible. It became her trusty daily driver, shuttling her and the family around.

Driver with Mk1 Escort Mexico

The RS Owners Club

Emma now works as the club administrator for the RSOC.

“I saw an advert for the role in the club’s magazine Rallye News and thought ‘this sounds interesting’. I made the calls, got the interviews and got the job. It was less money than my previous job at a bank, but I wanted something that reflected my passion, something that was a hobby, too. I’ve been here 10 years now and I love it. It’s like a family.

“The club is international, so I’m dealing with all kinds of people,” she says, her passion evident in her voice as she explains. “There’s so much variety in my day-to-day work. We could be organising shows, or helping people track down hard-to-find parts, or just talking about the cars they own. Whatever it is, it’s good to be at the hub of something people regard so highly. It’s not just a job, it’s a passion and a privilege.”

However running something so vast has its challenges.

“My summers –  especially leading up to National Day at Donington – are crazy. There are so many events to keep me on my toes. Other people have their day jobs as well as their voluntary roles but I’m the only employee so I get involved with everything.”

Mk1 Escort Mexico Features

Why Ford?

Ask others this question and they’ll need a moment to ponder. Not Emma.

“It’s the history, and the look of the cars,” she states with vigour. “For most people, there was a Ford in the family at some point – that’s what brings people in, the history and the heritage.

“The Mk3 Focus RS has a year’s waiting list now; that’s because of all these people who grew up with the brand. People desire the brand so there will always be people who live for Ford – and I’m one of them.

“A lot of people are catching up to their dreams,” she adds. “Many people couldn’t have them when they were younger due to cost or insurance, but they can afford them now. They’ve set up their lives with partners, kids and houses, but they can now get the car they always wanted. They can re-live their youth and their family can be a part of it too. And in so doing, another generation of RS and Ford fans is created.”

Mk1 Escort Mexico Front

Emma’s Mk1 Escort Mexico

The RS2000 is a great machine, but Emma yearned for something older, something with a bit more heritage and, fundamentally, something more personal.

“I wanted a Mk1 really,” she says. “But something sporty like a Mexico. I went to see one for sale and bought it on the spot. It’s Sebring Red and completely factory standard, apart from electronic ignition, which gives me a bit more confidence in the car.

“I wanted one because of the memories of riding in one as a kid. Then there’s the shape: I adore it, it’s just a beautiful thing to look at. I’d have it in my living room if I could! But then we’d get into an argument about having the husband’s Mk2 in there, too…

We got home at 4am, so it was obvious some work needed to be done

“Modern cars are all so similar,” she continues – in her element. “The Mk1 comes from a time when cars were different. You bought them on their looks as much as for their specification. And mine looks incredible. From the Cibie lights on the front to the ‘Ford’ lettering on the back, it’s just beautiful, it’s delicious!”

But the path of love is never smooth…

“I bought it from a collector who didn’t really drive it. It had been looked after – the body is amazing – but mechanically it wasn’t great. A friend drove it back for me, with me in the passenger seat. We got home at 4am, so it was obvious some work needed to be done.”

The Escort simply wasn’t happy under its own steam after being holed up in a private collection for so long. Emma didn’t trust it on the road as it was, and so the real work began.

Every time I put fuel in it or pop to the shop, I end up in full-blown conversation with a stranger about it

“In the end I did get the engine rebuilt,” she explains. “I wasn’t keen to drive it at first – I just didn’t trust it. I do now though. In fact, I love it even more now; I smile from ear-to-ear when I drive it. I’m like a kid in a sweet shop; the smell, the feel, the noise of that engine – it’s magical. “Driving it makes you wish there were more clear roads to enjoy. Living near the M25 isn’t ideal, but when I do get out on the road it’s an absolute joy. There’s no other car like it.”

And it’s clear other people are enjoying the car too.

“Every time I put fuel in it or pop to the shop, I end up in full-blown conversation with a stranger about it. That’d fill your life if you drove it every day!”

It’s clear that Emma is passionate about her work and her stunning Escort Mexico. But will Emma and her Mexican friend always be together?

“People ask if I’d sell it, but the answer is always no. No way. She’ll be with us for many, many years.”

Emma’s classic car advice

  • Get out there and enjoy it. These cars should be celebrated, so never miss an opportunity to get out for a drive.
  • Join a club: “It makes finding parts easier, plus there’s so much going on like meets and events. You’ll get more out of your car”.
  • Be confident. Spend the time and money to make the car how you want it. You want to enjoy it, not be worried every time you turn the key.

ALFA ROMEO GTV

1. When tuner Callaway created the twin 2 turbo Alfa GTV-6 (above), their handy work got the attention of Chevrolet, and so the legendary Callaway Sledgehammer was born.Best Alfa Romeo facts

TRIUMPH DAYTONA MOTO2

Triumph is commercially exploiting its position as engine-supplier to Moto2 with the new 2020 Triumph Daytona Moto2 765 Limited Edition motorcycle. Details are sparse and won’t be released until next month, but that won’t stop us from sharing what we know from this highly anticipated sport motorcycle. There are no photos, so Triumph’s artistic rendering will have to spur our imagination.

2020 Triumph Daytona Moto2 765 Limited Edition (8 Fast Facts)1. The 2020 Triumph Daytona Moto2 765 Limited Edition will debut at the GoPro British Grand Prix on August 23 at Silverstone. Silverstone Circuit is just 40 miles down the road from Triumph’s headquarters in Hinckley, so it’s a natural location to reveal the new model.

2. There are two international versions of the new Daytona. Triumph has a 765 for USA and Canada, and a different version for Europe and Asia. While both share the Moto2-derived 765cc triple powerplant, Triumph isn’t hinting at what the differences are. Each market gets 765 numbered examples.

3. Two unnamed World Champions will ride a version of the Daytona Moto2 motorcycle around the Silverston Circuit on a parade lap.

4. The 765cc triple used in the Triumph Daytona Moto2 will have more power than the version used in the Triumph Street Triple line. Triumph promises that the Daytona Moto2 has “the highest power and torque ever from a production 765cc motorcycle.”

5. The chassis for the Daytona Moto2 is upgraded from the Daytona 675, which was last sold in 2018. According to Triumph, the Moto2 gets “the highest specification of equipment ever seen on a Daytona.” The first Triumph Daytona sold was a 600-class model in 2002.

6. Limited-edition racing-inspired livery will be used on the Daytona Moto2.

7. The 2020 Daytona Moto2 765 Limited Edition is the first motorcycle licensed by Dorna Sports. Dorna owns the commercial rights to the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix, colloquially known as MotoGP. With it, Dorna also owns Moto2 (which uses Triumph spec engines), Moto3, and MotoE.

DUCATI 916

The year 1994 conjures a few vivid images that remain crystal clear even a quarter of a century later. Who can forget the helicopter shots of OJ Simpson’s bizarre low-speed police chase, for instance? 

In the UK the grisly crimes of Fred and Rose West were splashed across the front pages and the World Cup dominated the back. It was when we were first told “It could be you” as the National Lottery was launched, and The Fast Show emerged to define a generation of comedy.

It was also the first time that you could walk into a bike showroom and see Ducati’s 916 in all its glory. My first look at one, tucked among the more mundane offerings at Motorcycle City in Farnborough, stuck in my then-teenaged in the mind just as clearly as those Fast Show catchphrases and the helicopter shots of OJ’s white Ford Bronco.

Hundreds of bikes have been launched since then, but none have been as influential as the 916.

 

25 years of the Ducati 916

 

916: Genesis

The 916 first reached buyers in 1994 but that was the culmination of a process that had seen the bike unveiled to a stunned press the previous autumn after several years of development under the guiding hand of Massimo Tamburini, who was responsible not only for the aesthetic decisions but also the technical choices that made the 916 stand out from the competition.

We’ll start with the styling, since it’s without doubt the element of the 916 that initially grabbed the attention. The advent of projector-beam headlights – which first appeared in cars in the latter half of the 1980s – meant that bike designers gained the freedom to move away from the traditional round or rectangular lights that previously defined front-end styling and experiment with new shapes. The idea of two slit-shaped lights might be a common one on bikes now, but the 916 was a pioneer in the field.

Those lights were needed because Tamburini’s styling borrowed heavily from the work done by Pierre Terblanche on the Ducati Supermono racer, which first introduced the arrow-shaped side profile to the nose that the 916 would later take on. Tamburini also grabbed inspiration from Honda’s NR, the oval-pistoned 750cc V4 that first appeared as a concept bike at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show. It pioneered several cues that would later be adopted by the 916, with Tamburini himself admitting it influenced his design. As well as slit-shaped twin lights, the NR also featured a single-sided swingarm and shotgun-style under-seat exhausts, both design cues that would become key features of the 916.

The underseat pipes in particular were a relatively late change to the 916’s design. Initially it was intended to use side-mounted pipes; in that respect perhaps the 916’s baby sister, the Cagiva Mito that also appeared in 1994 and shares near-identical styling, is arguably closer to the original design.

 

1994:

Although it was first unveiled at the 1993 Milan show the 916 wouldn’t reach production until the following year – and it’s worth remembering that Ducati of the early 1990s was a very different company to the giant it has become today.

At the time it was part of the Cagiva group, owned by Claudio Castiglioni, and spent much of its time teetering on the verge of financial collapse. So while demand for the 916 was strong in its first year, production levels were relatively low. In fact, the rapturous reception that the 916 received arguably saved Ducati, leading to the 1996 takeover by investment firm Texas Pacific Group which helped consolidate Ducati’s fortunes for the next decade.

Initially, the 916 appeared in monoposto (single seat) Strada form, making 114hp. That’s precisely 100hp less than its modern equivalent, the Panigale V4, achieves – impressive progress in 25 years. A higher-spec 916 SP was also introduced with a claimed 126hp thanks to a significantly different, twin-injector version of the Desmoquattro engine with race-oriented internals.

 

25 years of the Ducati 916

 

1995: 

The first-year 916 Strada was replaced in 1995 by the twin-seat Biposto model and Ducati also launched the first 916 Senna – a project that had been instigated before Ayrton Senna’s death in 1994. It combined the standard Strada/Biposto spec engine with a handful of chassis parts from the SP, along with a black paint scheme, red wheels and a smattering of carbon fibre. Just 300 were made, but later ‘Senna II’ and ‘Senna III’ models would boost that total.

 

1996: 

The focus was on racing, and while the basic 916 Biposto street bike wasn’t updated Ducati spent the early years of 916 production constantly fiddling with high-spec, limited-edition versions to homologate racing parts. In 1996 the firm introduced the 916 SPS, featuring a 996cc engine, and also built even smaller numbers of a bike called the 955SP with a 955cc capacity. Ducati had been racing with a 955cc engine in WSBK since 1994, but needed to build 50 road-going examples with the same 96mm bore to be allowed to use the 955cc motor in AMA Superbike racing in America.

 

25 years of the Ducati 916

 

1997: 

The racing-inspired changes continued with the introduction of the 916 SPS. While it added just one letter to the name of its predecessor, the latest development included a largely new engine with redesigned crankcases to allow the motor to be bored out to 996cc, pushing nearer the 1000cc limit in superbike racing. Power for the new 996cc motor rose to 134hp. A second run of 916 Sennas also appeared in 1997.

 

1998: 

The big news for 1998, at least in the UK, was the introduction of the Ducati 916 Foggy Rep. Ostensibly a race-rep tribute to Carl Fogarty – hence being aimed at the British market – the Foggy Rep was actually a sneaky move to homologate a revised frame and airbox for WSB racing. With 202 made, Ducati produced enough to satisfy WSB production minimums at the time.

 

1999: 

As the end of the millennium neared, the Biposto version of the 916, which had missed out on most of the race-inspired updates of the previous few years, was finally in for some love – getting transformed in the process into the 996. That number reflected its new engine capacity, which now matched that of the previous 916 SPS (it became the 996 SPS in 1999, too).

 

25 years of the Ducati 916

 

2000: 

While the 916 didn’t officially exist in Ducati’s range anymore, the subsequent models still tend to generically go under the ‘916’ banner as they were simply modified versions of the momentous original. There was another capacity change for 2000 as the 996 SPS was replaced by the 996R, which despite its name had a 998cc engine – the first of Ducati’s Testastretta (‘narrow head’) V-twins. This design, with a narrower angle between the valves, allowed a bigger bore and shorter stroke, providing racing versions with a substantial power increase.

 

2002: 

The introduction of the 998 in 2002 saw the bike’s name catch up with its capacity once again as the 998cc Testastretta engine spread across the entire Ducati superbike range. This final fling for the legendary Tamburini-designed machine also got tweaked styling, with new, flat fairing sides replacing the vented originals and making for the smoothest-looking ‘916’ derivative yet. With the 998, Ducati adopted the naming convention that it’s retained to this day – a basic ‘998’ was joined by a higher-spec, Ohlins-suspended 998S, and the homologation-special version was the 998R. Special versions included Ben Bostrom and Troy Bayliss replicas, the green ‘998 Matrix’ to celebrate the 996’s appearance in The Matrix Reloaded, and finally the 2004 998 Final Edition that was sold alongside its replacement, the Pierre Terblanche-designed Ducati 999 that had been revealed in 2003.

 

25 years of the Ducati 916

 

Ducati 916: Racing record

In many ways Ducati was the greatest beneficiary of the creation of the World Superbike Championship in 1988. The firm was a contender from the very start, winning the second WSB race ever held and taking its first title in 1990 thanks to Raymond Roche and the 851.

The 888 superbike would go on to win two further titles with Doug Polen in 1991 and 1992, but the 916 was the first Ducati to be designed from the ground up with the new championship in mind.

Its first year of production was also its first in competition, and Carl Fogarty took the 955cc race version of the 916 to the 1994 title, repeating the feat the following year. It was a 916 on top again 1996, this time thanks to Troy Corser. A massive effort from Honda saw the RC45 take its sole WSB title in 1997, but the 916 was back in top again with Foggy in 1998 and 1999 (by then on the renamed 996).

Honda won again in 2000, having given in and built its own 1000cc V-twin to compete with Ducati, but Troy Bayliss brought the crown back to Italy again with the 916’s 996R development in 2001. That gives the 916 and its derivatives an unbeaten six WSB championships. Will we ever see a bike that manages to combine jaw-dropping beauty, technical innovation and competition success to such a level again?

HOW TO DRIFT

There are many different methods of inducing a drift, and your choice depends on the natural properties of your car. Once oversteer has been invoked, you’ll need to control the drift using the throttle and counter steering. To maintain an accurate line while going sideways is tricky, and will take lots of practice.

What kind of car do I need to drift?

  • Rear or four wheel drive with a rear bias
  • Lots of power is useful
  • A limited slip differential to keep both rear wheels spinning, rather than just one
  • The ability to turn off any electronic stability control systems
  • Cheap rear tyres!

You can’t drift properly in a front wheel drive car – you can oversteer temporarily, but it’s impossible to sustain a drift correctly without rear or four wheel drive.

Stages of the drift

We’ve split the drifting process into four main stages shown in Diagram 1 below. A. Turning in B. Inducing oversteer C. Controlling and sustaining the drift D. Exiting the drift

The four stages of drifting

Diagram 1: The four stages of drifting

A. Turning in

When learning to drift, our advice is to approach a tight 30mph turn in second gear at about 3000rpm – this will give you a decent amount of torque to keep the rear wheels spinning once you’ve induced oversteer. Remember drifting is not the fastest way round a corner so you’re not trying to set speed records here. Turn in and aim to apex about half way round at the geometric apex (the green line in Diagram 1 above). If apex too soon you can find that the car will run wide and you’ll have to compensate by ending the drift early, too late and you’ll be on the straight early and won’t have any time to sustain the drift. With practice you’ll be able to drift round the corner in a smooth arc which follows the racing line. Once you have mastered drifting along the racing line, you’ll then be able to start the drift earlier and sustain it for the entire corner, and even adjust the angle or steering simply by adjusting the throttle.

B. Inducing the drift

At the apex of the corner you need to initiate oversteer, which sometimes is more difficult than it sounds. Drifting has developed its own unique terminology for techniques to ‘get the back out’ which are explained below. Remember that if you have a modern car with clever electronic stability control systems you’ll need to turn these off first.?

Power / Power over / Power slide

If you have a powerful car it should be possible to break traction simply by accelerating sharply mid bend – this is the preferred method of inducing oversteer as it is easy to control and repeat. If you increase the throttle too slowly it’s unlikely anything other than understeer will occur, too hard and the car may spin. You’re aiming for a sharp, sustained hit of power in the right gear – practice will help you get the balance right. You might be surprised about how much power is required on a road with a good surface, so it might be helpful to chose a road which is either damp or has lower traction tarmac.

Clutch Kick

Clutch kick is a useful technique to use if you do not have a particularly powerful rear wheel drive car. The trick here is to enter the corner and dip the clutch. Raise the engine revs to near the red line, and then release the clutch at the apex. The resulting shock load of torque sent through the driveline should break traction at the rear wheels, thus invoking oversteer.

Changing down / Shift lock

“Shift lock” describes the action of locking the rear wheels momentarily by changing down a gear (or two) rapidly without rev matching. Once you’re back on the gas this will give you the benefits of more torque at the wheels due to the lower gear, with high revs helping sustain the drift.

Lift off / braking

Entering a corner fast, then lifting off the accelerator at the apex can cause oversteer due to the resulting forward weight transfer which reduces grip at the rear tyres. If you drive a particularly stubborn car, a quick dab on the brakes may help.

Handbrake / E-brake

If your car refuses to get tail happy, there is always the option of the handbrake / emergency brake. A sudden sharp application and release mid corner will break traction at the rear wheels, but remember to keep your thumb on the release button! Get on the throttle as soon as the back steps out.

Scandinavian flick / feint

Flicking the car the opposite direction to the corner, just before turn in will generate a rapid lateral weight transfer which can unsettle the car enough to flick the back out. As soon as you turn in, get on the gas and prepare for the resulting oversteer.

Jump drift

This is probably one of the more risky methods – the trick here is to put two wheels onto the inside edge of the track while cornering, with the resulting bump unsettling car enough to break traction at the rear. Use with caution!

Suggested methods of inducing oversteer

Inducing a drift

Inducing a drift

Most of the above methods can be used in combination (for example a ‘Scandinavian flick’ combined with ‘lift off’), but you’ll need to experiment with your own car to see which work best.

C. Controlling and sustaining the drift

Once the back starts to come round you need to act quickly. Keep the power on (you might be surprised how much power is required to sustain the drift), quickly counter-steer in the desired direction of travel, and balance the throttle to alter the attitude of the car. If the car is rotating too far ease off the gas then reapply as necessary.

To sustain the drift you need to keep the power on to keep the rear wheels spinning – about 80% throttle is the rule of thumb (although you’ll need less in slippery or low traction conditions). If the back comes round too far, gently ease off the throttle and apply additional steering lock to correct the slide. If you’re finding it hard to keep the slide going, you may need to use more power or take the corner slightly faster.

Sustaining and ending the drift

Diagram 2: Sustaining and ending the drift

D. Ending the drift

Finishing the drift and getting the car straight again can be tricky – if you end the drift too quickly you might find the car starts to oversteer in the opposite direction, leading to ‘fishtailing’ and a pendulum effect which can be hard to control. The trick is to ease off the power smoothly and turn the steering rapidly and decisively back to the straight ahead position. Don’t let the steering run through your hands as this won’t give you the control you need.

Preparing a drift car

If you decide to get serious and have a car specially for drifting, you should consider a series of relatively simple modifications.

Suspension

It’s a good idea to try and reduce body roll and thus increase control due to a more consistent tyre contact patch by fitting stiffer springs and dampers. Adjustable ride height and damping will allow you to tune the suspension to your personal tastes. Fit stiffer anti-roll (sway) bars particularly at the back, which should be stiffer than the front to provide a good turn-in and reduce understeer. And if you’re feeling really keen, a few degrees of negative camber on the front wheels will further reduce understeer and give you a nice sharp steering response.

Engine, drive-train and electronic aids

As drift cars tend to put the engine under high load and the angles they are driven at prevent an efficient flow of air through the radiators it’s sensible to fit cooling upgrades for radiator and oil. A limited slip differential with a decent amount of lock up torque is preferred, but budget racers may opt for a welded diff, which shouldn’t be used on the road. Clutch upgrades are also a good idea, especially if you’re using the ‘clutch kick’ approach to inducing oversteer. Electronic traction aids should be completely disabled, which may involve the removal of a fuse in cars with over protective systems.

Tyres

Slick rear tyres or tyres with low tread are ideal for drifting. Rear pressures can be increased if you’re finding it difficult to get the back out. The best drift tyres have a stiff sidewall which reduces deformation under heavy load and gives a more predictable drift.

FERRARI SF90 STRADALE

Ferrari has taken the wraps off the second of five new cars planned for 2019, the new SF90 Stradale. The first ever plug-in hybrid Ferrari is described by CEO Louis Camilleri as “a milestone” in Ferrari history, and is positioned as a new halo model for the current line-up.

The name SF90 Stradale references Ferrari’s 90th anniversary in F1, which the brand celebrates this year, and is taken from the current SF90 Formula One race car, with the ‘Stradale’ appendage meaning street in Italian. Camilleri explained that the brand would use the hybrid aspect of the SF90 Stradale to “attract a new type of customer”.

At the heart of the car lies a mid-mounted turbocharged V8 allied to three electric motors fed by a small 7.9kWh battery located behind the rear bulkhead. Ferrari claims that several new technological innovations other than this plug-in powertrain feature on the newcomer.

The engine is a wholly redeveloped version of the turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 unit used elsewhere in the range. Bore increases to take the total displacement up to 4.0-litres, while the intake and exhaust systems, along with the turbocharger have all been redesigned. On its own, the V8 produces 769bhp.

Alongside its petrol engine, the SF90 Stradale also uses three-electric motors: one runs on the driveshaft from the engine to a brand new, eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the other two drive the front axle making the car four-wheel drive. 

Top speed, 0-62mph and electric range 

New thermal management technology specifically for the battery and motors has been equipped and total electric power stands at 217bhp. Ferrari says it’s possible to drive the SF90 Stradale on battery power only for 15.5 miles when the car is toggled into eDrive via the wheel mounted Manettino switch. 84mph is the top speed when in this electric power only mode but by default, the SF90 Stradale will operate in Hybrid mode, combining electric and petrol power for optimum performance.

Performance and Qualify modes also feature, allowing the driver to access the SF90 Stradale’s headline performance figures. Total combined power stands at 986bhp and there’s 800Nm torque giving rise to what Ferrari claims is a 0-62mph of 2.5 seconds and a top speed of 211mph. We’re also told that SF90 Stradale has been around the brand’s Fiorano test circuit faster than the limited run, V12 hybrid LaFerrari.

• New Ferrari 488 Pista review

While a lot of the performance can be put down to the powertrain, aerodynamics and new, faster shifting gearbox, Ferrari has also used the SF90 Stradale’s electric motors to further develop its traction and dynamic control systems. The car gets a new version of Ferrari’s electronic Slip Slide Control, which includes a traction control system individually controlling all four wheels, and a brake-by-wire system which uses the electric motors to both slow the car and regenerate energy for the battery pack.

Torque vectoring appears at the front axle too, automatically managing power and traction on the inside and outside wheels at corner exits. To save weight the new eight-speed gearbox does not feature a reverse gear, and the car relies on battery power only to go backwards.

Chassis, weight and design 

The SF90 Stradale is built around a brand new ‘multi-material’ chassis using a combination of forged aluminium and carbon-fibre. Ferrari claims a kerb-weight of 1,570kg, with 270kg of that weight put down to the integration of the all-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain.

The design remains that of a cab-forward mid-engined supercar. The nose is low and sharp and features distinctly thin LED matrix headlights, while the rear three quarter is dominated by floating buttresses. The rear fascia is tall, flat and integral to an aerodynamic set-up also featuring a huge rear diffuser. The active rear spoiler can move up and down on a horizontal axis, unlocking more downforce when required.

Ferrari has also launched a sports-oriented version of the SF90 called Assetto Fiorano. Design wise it features a carbon fibre spoiler, carbon wheels and a distinctive livery, while lightweight carbon fibre doors, titanium springs and exhaust parts contribute to a 30kg weight saving. The SF90 Assetto Fiorano also gets GT racing-derived shock absorbers and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 tyres as standard. 

Step inside the Ferrari SF90 Stradale and you’ll find a cabin boasting a significantly more digital driving environment than any Ferrari before it. Every piece of switchgear on the dashboard, with the exception of the Manettino switch, is on touch sensitive panels, with 80 per cent of the car’s controls clustered on the steering wheel. A central infotainment display is not equipped, and instead the SF90 Stradale relies on a new 16-inch fully configurable digital instrument panel and a head-up display. To top it off, Ferrari has introduced a brand new, smaller key too. 

Price and on release date

The SF90 Stradale is a series production model and not a limited run car, and around 2,000 potential customers have been earmarked already. Prices have not been communicated but it won’t reach the level of the LaFerrari hypercar in terms of cost, and will instead neatly top the regular Ferrari line-up sitting above the 812 Superfast. As such, a starting price between £350,000-£400,000 seems likely, with deliveries to take place by summer 2020.

HOW TO HANDBRAKE TURN

You’ll probably know what a handbrake turn is, but you mightn’t necessarily know how it works, what it’s used for, or how exactly to pull one off smoothly and consistently.

Handbrake turns originated in rally driving and are commonly used to quickly manoeuvre around the tightest, low speed corners. Generally speaking, it’s one of the bluntest tools in a driver’s arsenal and is usually only utilised on corners which are too tight to negotiate at speed via other methods.

The handbrake turn works by pulling hard on the handbrake in order to lock the rear wheels, which in conjunction with a hard steering input will cause the car to slide around in a tight radius. It can also be used to induce a drift at speed or while mid-corner in order to tighten the car’s line.

What you’ll need

The right car

The first thing that you should check for is that your car actually has a manual, cable operated handbrake. Virtually all older cars will have one, though many new ones are starting to come with button-operated parking brakes as standard, which will be of no use for pulling off a handbrake turn.

As a rule of thumb, handbrake turns work best on front-wheel drive cars. Given that locking the rear wheels on a rear-wheel drive car will kill all drive it tends to not give the desired effect, and could also damage your driveline.

It can be used on certain four-wheel drive cars, though vehicles with viscous centre differentials will often not allow the handbrake to lock the rear wheels only, so it’s worth checking the exact specs of your car.

Handbrake turns also work best with cars that have a manual gearbox, or in the case of a rally or racing car one with a sequential gearbox and a clutch pedal that allows power to be cut from the wheels.

More advanced drivers may want to fit their cars with a special hydraulic handbrake, given that handbrake turns are hard on the car’s components and will stretch the handbrake cable under heavy usage.

Open space

It’s absolutely vital that you have plenty of open space to practice handbrake turns in. You should never attempt a handbrake turn or any other stunt driving technique on a public road, or in a public car park.

If there’s no open and available space near you, take a look on Google for your nearest racing circuit or driving experience centre, most of which will come with a skidpan area for you to practise techniques, drifts and skids in a safe, controlled environment.

Suitable conditions

If you want to prolong the life of your tyres, it’s worthwhile only practising handbrake turns in suitable conditions. Practising on dry tarmac will wear the tread off your rear tyres extremely quickly, and it also means you’ll have to carry more speed into the turns in order to initiate a proper handbrake turn.

To start out, you’re best either finding an area with a low-grip surface like gravel, dirt or grass. Wet tarmac will also work better than dry tarmac, and many race track skidpans will come with sprinklers which periodically shoot water onto the surface in order to reduce friction.

If you’re really in a pinch, you could opt for a set of spare tyres, or pick up a pair of plastic tyre covers like those made by Easydrift, which are specially designed to fit over your rear tyres and reduce the amount of grip available, and which are used by professional drivers and stuntmen alike.

Cones

Finally, to really learn how to nail a consistent handbrake turn you’ll want some cones to practise turning around. You can start with just a single cone and all of our diagrams below are displayed with just one cone, but once you start to get the feel for it you can set up additional cones and practise sliding the car around or through them.

How to handbrake turn

Once you have everything you need and you’ve found a suitable spot to practise in, it’s time to learn how to pull off a handbrake turn. Although it seems like a simple manoeuvre, we’ve split it down into six distinct stages below.

Stage one

Accelerate towards the cone at a reasonably low speed. As a rule of thumb, 30mph is plenty when learning and you should stay in first gear until you’ve properly got the feel for doing it consistently at lower speeds.

Just before you turn the steering wheel, lift your right foot sharply off the accelerator, which will cause the weight of the car to transfer over the front end, lightening the load on the rear tyres and allowing for a sharp turn in.

Stage two

You should have your hands positioned in a way which allows you to apply the greatest amount of steering lock in a single, smooth motion. If you’re turning left around the corner, place your right hand at the five o’clock position and prepare to smoothly turn it all the way to 11 o’clock.

Likewise, if you’re turning right, position your right hand at the 7 o’clock position and prepare to move it to the 2 o’clock position. We’d suggest starting off by turning left, however, as it’s easier to operate the steering by pulling rather than pushing.

Stage three

In one fluid motion turn in hard but smoothly, and aim to clip the cone with the front left wheel of the car if you’re turning left, or the front right wheel if you’re turning right.

At the same time as you’re steering, press in the clutch pedal with your left foot and yank the handbrake up hard in a quick motion, taking care to make sure you’re pressing in the release button for a smooth action.

Note that you shouldn’t hold the handbrake on, as this will only kill your speed. You want to only apply enough handbrake to get the rear end of the car to swing round and release it as quickly as it was engaged.

Stage four

As you feel the back of the car coming round and the radius of the turn starting to tighten, begin to unwind the steering lock that was applied. The wheel will try to force its way round in the opposite direction, but you want the front wheels to point in the direction you want the car to go.

It’s vitally important that you always look in the direction you want the car to end up, even if you’re temporarily looking out of the side window instead of the windscreen. Just like in normal driving, the car will naturally tend to go towards whatever point your eyes are fixed on.

You may also have to let the wheel slip through your hands in a controlled manner in order to unwind the steering lock quickly and ‘catch’ the car, and it will probably take a few tries to get this just right.

Stage five

When the car has rotated in the desired direction and at the desired angle, press on the accelerator to get the engine revs up. Generally, give it enough throttle to make the wheels spin slightly, and then bring the clutch up quickly to get the best possible start in your new direction.

This is probably the trickiest bit of the entire handbrake turn, as beginners will often either not give the car enough gas, will not bring the clutch up quick enough or will overcook the angle and have to countersteer in order to reign the car back into line.

Stage six

Once the turn has been completed, simply drive off and then start again for another try. If you’ve pulled it off right, the whole manoeuvre should take between two or three seconds.

It can be tricky to get the coordination down, but as with everything, practice makes perfect and the more you do it the better you’ll get, and the better a feel you’ll get for what the car’s doing underneath you.

Common mistakes

Trying your best but just can’t get it right? Troubleshoot what you’re doing with some of the more common mistakes drivers make below.

Taking the corner too slow

If you take the corner at too low a speed, or alternatively if you’re on a surface with too much grip, you won’t be able to achieve the right amount of rotation, and the car will either not get a tight enough turn or simply slow down.

Taking the corner too fast

Conversely, carrying too much speed into a tight corner will either result in a spin if you’re too aggressive with the turn-in or the handbrake, or you’ll understeer and run off the opposite end of the turn.

Holding the handbrake for too long

At higher speeds, this will make the car rotate further than you’d initially intended, or alternatively at lower speeds it’ll simply scrub all your speed off and bring the car to a halt.

Traction control is on

The majority of new, or at least recent, cars will come with some sort of traction control function, which will, among other things, limit your ability to pull off a handbrake turn. If you’re completing all the steps correctly but it feels like the handbrake is doing nothing, check to see whether you’ve left the traction control on.

GET YOUR KNEE DOWN

If you’re into riding fast, like we are, then there’s no greater sensation than getting your knee down. Like sex, you’ll always remember your first time. Also like sex, it’s probably going to be a lot easier than you think it will be, you just need to get your body position right. Here’s how to get your knee down. 

The thing with knee down is that it’s kinda pointless. It won’t make you faster, it won’t make you safer and ignore what you read about in forums — you’ll never catch a lowside on your knee. But, it looks awesome, it feels awesome and your friends will think you’re awesome when they see your scuffed knee pucks. The things you need to do to drag knee can help with speed and safety though. Look at knee down as a sign of proper riding form rather than an end unto itself.

It should also be stated that there’s a lot more to safe, competent, fast riding than dragging a knee. We’ll address other skills another time. For now, let’s just concentrate on this, assuming that you already know how to do things like look through a corner, use your brakes and not run into obstacles.

Step One: Get the right equipment. You’ll need a sport, standard or supermoto type motorcycle with good tires, good suspension and reasonable ground clearance. You’re also going to need, at the very minimum, a two-piece leather suit with knee pucks. Not only are you going to be pushing the limits of your own performance capability — meaning you need to wear safety gear — but the articulation offered by a real riding suit makes all the difference in attaining the proper body position.

Step Two: Find some good corners. If you’ve got the funds and a track close to you, book yourself into a track day. Tracks have ambulances, corner workers to pick you up when you fall and instructors who can help translate this advice into reality. Tracks also don’t have cops.

This is the part where we tell you that riding fast and dragging a knee is illegal, dangerous and just a terrible idea. It’s not big and it’s not clever to ride outside of your ability anywhere, anytime or speed when you’re around other drivers, pedestrians or homes. It can also be a bad idea to do it in the middle of nowhere. Out on some mountain road you might find yourself injured and unable to move to safety or find help in an area without cell phone service. So if you’re going to do this on the road bring a buddy, a tool kit, a tire repair kit, a first aid kit and some water. Know how to use all of the above. Having passenger pegs on your bikes is also a good idea as it can save some serious walking.

An ideal road corner on which to get your knee down for the first time is likely going to be taken in second gear, be smoothly paved, have good vision, plenty of runoff and choose uphill rather than downhill. A nice place to turn around on either side of a series of corners is also a good idea. Watch the yellow lines, car drivers won’t.

Step Three: Work up to pace. Start at a nice easy speed, trying to string corners together smoothly without much in the way of heavy braking or acceleration. Gradually up your speeds, limiting how fast you go on the straights to not much faster than you’re going in corners. The goal here is to work up to a good corner speed and lean angle, not to test your brakes. Your tires and your brain need time to get up to temperature and adapt to reacting at speed. Take it easy, don’t push, just do what feels comfortable. Develop a flow.

Now is a good time to learn from your faster friends too. In racing, this is called getting a tow. Ask them to lead you through the corners at a reasonable pace. Watch what they do, where they are on the road, where they’re braking and where they’re accelerating. You can learn a lot doing this in very little time. Don’t feel pressure to keep up though. If they’re riding too fast for you to comfortably follow, just hang back and ask them to slow down next time. Experienced riders, it’s your responsibility to help your friends.

Step Four: body position. This is where it starts getting technical. Way back in 1983, Keith Code put a chapter about body position in “A Twist of the Wrist.” It, along with motorcycle technology, has evolved in the ensuing three decades. The current style — which is designed to work with modern tires, modern suspension and modern motorcycles — is to move once butt cheek off the seat, move your head low and to the inside, stretch your outside arm across the tank and point your inside elbow towards the ground. The main goal is to move your center of gravity as far to the inside of the corner and as low as possible. This means the bike will lean less at a given speed, which in turns means more grip and more safety. Hanging off also allows you to stand the bike up quicker on a corner exit, allowing you to get on the gas earlier. Hanging off means more outright corner speed is possible.

Modern sportbikes are built with this in mind and riding them with the correct form is necessary to fully access their performance potential.

Most guys you see riding on the street sit as far forward as possible with their heels hooked on the pegs and their feet sticking out like a duck. That effectively makes you a dead weight on the bike, harming performance. If you’re talking about getting your knee down, you’re talking about riding a motorcycle as a sport. Start treating it like one by riding your bike athletically.

First, pick your feet up. You want to have the balls of your feet on the tips of the pegs. This will keep your boots off the ground and allow you to put your weight onto the pegs when moving side to side.

Next, scoot back in the seat. Where, exactly, you’ll sit depends on you, your bike and how your suspension is set up.