Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cadillac bringing ethanol hybrid chopper to LA Auto Show

Cadillac chief Jim Taylor likes him some motorcycles, so it's not all too surprising that he commissioned a Cadillac-themed chopper from Great American Chopper in Clawson, Michigan (at right). What is surprising is that Cadillac has commissioned a second chopper from V20 Consulting out of New York City that will be an ethanol hybrid capable of running on corn fuel or pure electrons. It can reportedly even reach 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. Cadillac plans to unveil the bike at the LA Auto Show later this year, but the thing we can't figure out is what motorcycles or hybrid powertrains have to do with Cadillac, which has never been associated with either. The source says that the bike is supposed to display GM's "strength in science and technology". How about delivering the series hybrid Volt on time? That's the only evidence of GM's strength in science and technology that we need.

UPDATE: Cadillac contacted us to clarify that in fact it didn't commission either motorcycle, but both custom bike-building shops are building these choppers on their own, and Cadillac has given them permission to use its logo and branding. It was also pointed out that the Cadillac Escalade Two-Mode Hybrid is almost here, so in fact the wreath and crest will soon be getting its first hybrid.

Michael Schumacher making motorcycle helmets now

Click on the image for more high-res shots of the Schuberth Race helmet

Seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher doesn't seem to have any desire to take it easy after retiring from the pinnacle of motorsports. It turns out that his four-wheeled racing excellence has translated rather nicely to two, and it sounds as if the ex-champ's perfectionist attitude continues on unabated as he now begins designing helmets for Schuberth. The German producer of brain buckets had previously supplied the headgear for Schumacher as he raced in F1 and currently provides the units for Ralf Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld, Felipe Massa, Kimi Räikkönen and Mark Webber. Though no details regarding pricing or availability have been released as of yet, Schuberth assures that its new 'Schuberth Race' helmet is "an extremely lightweight and aerodynamic helmet, filled with numerous technical and safety innovations." From the looks of things, the helmet, with its orange and grey highlights, would be perfect mounted atop a KTM rider's head.

Fox Business wants you to keep your trucks

Click above for high-res gallery of the Piaggio MP3 400 and 500

Finding yourself stuck in a truck? Gas guzzling got you down? You are certainly not alone. Though the most obvious thing to do would be to ditch the fuel-inefficient vehicle for a cheaper to run model, Fox Business has other ideas. Keep in mind that the current value of pickups, especially full-sizers, has dropped nearly as dramatically as the fuel prices have risen, so you're not likely to get what you owe, assuming you are still making payments. That's why getting out from under your purchase could end up costing you more than its worth.

If you're stuck with a gas-hog, what are your money-saving options? Umm... drive less. No, seriously. Consider public transportation and carpooling if possible. Ride your bike when its practical and even *gasp* walk. Of course, it's not always possible to walk or ride a bike to get where we need to go. Fox ends by suggesting a scooter as a second vehicle. It's worked out for lots of people already, but be sure to count that cost too before making any rash decisions. We're cycle fans who recognize the fun and low-costs associated with scooters, but safety and practicality cannot be ignored. Whatever you do, get used to it, 'cause gas isn't likely to begin dropping back down any time soon.

Dealership can't sell trucks, sells scooters instead

The sky-high price of gas has hit some dealerships pretty hard. A perfect example of this is Moody Chevrolet in River Falls, Wisconsin which last sold a pick up truck sometime in February. While their truck inventory sits outside and waits patiently for new homes, the Moody brothers still need to sell something and that something now happens to be scooters. They might not have the profit margin of a Tahoe or an Avalanche but they don't cost nearly as much to stock either. They have sold 20 of the two-wheeled econo-cycles so far this year and suspect they could sell a lot more if they could only get their hands on them. Apparently, the scooter supply is as short as the demand for trucks is, well, non-existent.

According to the report from KARE11 there is one scooter on the premises that's not for sale. It's the red one that Mike Moody uses to get back and forth with while his Suburban sits in a garage at home. Because of its 45 mpg disadvantage, it only gets to come out and play when it's raining. Mike seems to have a good attitude about the situation though saying, "[It's] another mode of transportation and that's the business that we're in."

Man falls in love with his Xingyue enclosed scooter

A Michigan man has found his own personal solution to high gas prices in an interesting three-wheeled enclosed scooter which leans into turns from a Chinese company known as Xingyue. Before this story, we were not at all familiar with the company, though a Google search does turn up a little information. Powered by a 150cc single cylinder four stroke engine, the scooter is capable of traveling on any road that is not a major highway and is fully street legal. The new owner estimates that he is getting fuel mileage of around 120 miles per gallon when he keeps it under forty miles per hour and 80-90 miles per gallon when he's really wringing it out.

This machine appears to be some sort of copy of the Honda Gyro. Though we tend to shy away from unknown Chinese scooters, reputable brands like Piaggio, Vespa and Yamaha have appeared on these pages in the past. The enclosure of the Xingyue allows a slightly longer riding season for those who live in areas with poor weather much of the year. See a video of the machine in action here.

Rumormill: Volkswagen partnering with KTM on motorcycle?

Shortly after the revelation that Volkswagen wished it hadn't passed up on the opportunity to purchase famed Italian bike maker Ducati, comes a word that the German automaker has plans for its own line of motorcycles. What we can say for sure is that the rumored bike isn't likely to look anything like the picture above, which nonetheless is an interesting mash-up of an Aprilia trellis frame along with bodywork from MV Agusta. At least the artist chose good stock from which to pilfer. KTM, more and more a serious manufacturer itself, is the likely source of bike-specific components and is rumored to be providing technical know-how to VW as a sort-of repayment for the help it received in designing the awesome X-Bow, which uses an Audi engine. KTM is known in the bike realm for producing excellent engines, so basing a possible VeeDub VeeTwin on existing Katoom architecture strikes us as a good idea. What also strikes us as a good idea is the reconsideration of the ill-fated GX3 three-wheeler, which was axed over fears of possible litigation. If VW were to sponsor a range of two-wheelers already, though, the GX3 would be a much safer bet for future production. Let us cross our collective fingers on this one.

VIDEO: Autocar pits the Caterham R500 against a Ducati

There's no arguing that the Caterham R500 is an amazing piece of four-wheeled machinery. In fact, it may just be the quickest way around a race track short of a Formula 1 car. We're equally as certain that the Ducati Hypermotard is an awesome motorcycle, so putting both of these performers on the same track and letting them have at it is certain to entertain. Autocar must have thought so, too, and udging by the video posted after the break, the event didn't let anybody down. As is usually the case when a bike is put up against a car, the race was close. In the longer straight sections of the track, the Duck's power-to-weight ratio allows it to pull away from the Caterham. The Caterham, with twice the number of contact patches, easily out-brakes the Ducati rider and can carry more speed throughout the turn. So, is the race that will finally put an end to the age-old question about which is faster around a given course? Probably not, but it sure is fun to watch. Want to know who won? Hit the jump, and be sure to pay attention as the Caterham goes airborne.

Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special

Click on the image for more high-res shots of the Night Rod Special

Harley-Davidson and the cruiser segment in general is currently being forced into the realization that such bikes are often considered playthings by their owners. Sure, there are plenty of die-hard HD fanatics who ride their bikes thousands of miles annually and attend faraway rallies to gather with other enthusiasts who share their passion. Many owners, though, spend more time polishing their chrome than out riding. Such weekend warriors make up a large portion of the cruiser market, and those owners are being forced to hold onto their current rides a bit longer than normal due to the slowing economy in the U.S. -- a country which easily makes up the bulk of cruiser sales.

Harley-Davidson and the rest of the industry could see this change coming long ago, and the V-Rod was its opening defense to this looming issue... and it was a good one by most accounts. The Motor Company, though, has not been content to rest on the original V-Rod as the only alternative to its classic line of air-cooled V-twin powered bikes. Thankfully, we have machines such as the Night Rod Special to provide a welcome diversion from the rolling pieces of nostalgia that make up the majority of HD's line. Does the Night Rod Special's riding experience live up to the promise made by its menacing looks? Read on to find out.

One design for a collapsible electric bicycle train

Click above for more images of the electric bike train

Recently, while searching the net for the most interesting forward-thinking ideas around, we stumbled across a design for an electric bicycle which works sort of like a train. Sure, that sounds confusing, but a quick glance at the pictures below will likely make the concept easier to understand. While we in no way believe that a device such as this would make any real dent in global emissions or congestion, we do think that the idea has some merit for cyclists. Consider, for example, how expensive tandem bicycles are. With a vehicle such as this, a single rider can go his merry way alone or attach extra helpers bikes as needed. Additionally, the electric machine is collapsible, which should make it easier to store when not needed. Pretty cool stuff from designer Jiang Qian in China. A quick glance at his accomplishments makes us believe we're not the only ones impressed by his work.

Schumacher falls - literally - in motorbike race debut

As was reported earlier, Michael Schumacher made an appearance racing on a Honda at the Oschersleben circuit of the German Superbike Championship last weekend. On the surface, his twenty-eighth place finish seems rather disappointing, but upon further examination, it was a pretty good weekend overall for the ex-Formula 1 champ. Technical issues kept Schumacher from starting well, with only two racers behind him at position thirty-seven on the grid. Finishing all the way up to number 28 in the first race is a rather good outing considering the competition he was up against. In race two, Schumacher charged his way to position 21 before crashing out.

Despite the accident, Schumacher seems to have enjoyed his time on the track, saying, "I am a racer. I find motorcycles such a lot of fun, but I do not have any plans to enter a race series properly. Perhaps I will race from time to time, but always as a guest runner and without ambitions for another career." Good for you, Schumie. Thanks for the tip, Erik!

Mahindra joins Tata as interested party to purchase MV Agusta?

Click on the image above for pictures of the Brutale 910 R

Tata Motors, rumored to have been interested in purchasing a large chunk of Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta, could have some competition. Another large Indian conglomerate, Mahindra & Mahindra may now be interested in a controlling stake in the storied company. According to India Automotive, the potential exists to gain instant traction in the global motorcycle market by picking up MV Agusta, and the Italian company could use the extra funds from a large and profitable company to release a new line of more competitive machines.

Volkswagen, are you paying attention to all of this? As we've previously reported, the German automaker has expressed interest in purchasing an established motorcycle brand, even going so far as to mention Ducati by name. MV Agusta would offer instant credibility and would be a rather easy entrance into the marketplace.

Piaggio builds the Pope a rickshaw

Photo: Times of India

Over the years, the Pope has been driven around in quite a few different vehicles, which most people refer to as the 'Popemobile.' The last time the Pope visited the United States, for instance, his ride was a modified Mercedes-Benz M Class SUV which had been specially modified to accommodate his needs. In fact, Mercedes-Benz has a long history of creating vehicles specially for the Pope, and now Piaggio has joined in as well. Piaggio's contribution, though, features just three wheels and is made from the rickshaw platform which is popular in India, where the vehicle was created.

According to Ravi Chopra from Piaggio's Indian subsidiary, "These vehicles were given a complete look and feel of a Popemobile by putting a white coloured hood, white tyres, seat upholstery, and white body paint. The insignia on the doors is specially handcrafted. The entire vehicle was given a complete unique decor to suit the aura of His Holiness." Piaggio hopes that Pope Benedict XVI can find a use for the vehicle at the Vatican, perhaps when touring the gardens.

Honda VFR conversion to electric power now complete

Why do so many people want to be hatin' on home electric vehicle conversions? When we featured Andrew Angellotti and his DIY Mazda pick-up truck conversion, a lot of people felt the need to criticize what this boy had done. Granted, there were some who defended him as well, but the very fact that people took the time to denegrate what he'd done was strange to me. Guess I shouldn't be surprised that something similar happened to Travis Gintz, the guy behind the eVFR (above).

It's taken quite a while to get to this stage, but Gintz wrote in to let us know that his electron-powered Honda VFR is finished. The other day, he took it to EV Awareness Day in Portland, Oregon. As Travis writes on his blog:

The first question out of everyone's mouth was "How far does it go"... to which I replied "15-20 miles on crappy used UPS batteries I got for free". I initially wanted to go with larger lead [acid batteries], but since these were free, I wanted to develop/test the mechanical first, and then upgrade to lithium in the fall. Its all working and now I can shop for alternatives to lead. Most people scoffed a little, I didn't care, Its quite a feat in a motorcycle, especially keeping it stock looking. I know what the end result will be.... LiFePo and AC will eventually find their way into that bike. It will perform well, and range will be 30-40 miles.

Compare this positivity to the negative comments some people feel the need to leave. Gintz said that the bike is now completely assembled, except for the turn signals and will be registered to be street-legal soon. We talked a bit with Travis about his project and you can read our interview after the jump.

Vectrix serves as a taxi in Paris

Travel options in Paris just got a happy new addition. A scooter taxi service (yes really!) that goes by the name of City Bird has just added a pair of Vectrix electric maxi-scooters to its fleet. Now, instead of riding to your favorite cafe or tourist attraction on the back of a Suzuki Burgman or Honda Goldwing, you can now travel carbon and noise pollution free on a stylishly painted (n'est-ce pas?) Vectrix.

If this whole two-wheel taxi thing seems a little strange to you and your French literacy is adequate (or you have Google translate) you can check out the company blog and learn everything there is to know about the concept. From what we understand, the prices are decent and you don't have to worry about getting stuck in traffic jams like you might in a four-wheeled taxi. You can order up your ride via the Internet or telephone. If you happen to have an excellent knowledge of Paris and its environs and are a licensed and experienced driver looking for a unique employment opportunity you might want to get in contact with them for that too. Thanks to Mike W. for the tip!

GG Quadster: Impending doom on four wheels

click above for high-res gallery of the GG Quadster

We took a look at the original GG Quad a little while back and poked fun at its piddly 106-mph top speed, which is primarily due to its mild-mannered 85-horsepower air-cooled boxer engine that displaces 1150cc. Consider that small problem resolved. The new GG Quadster utilizes Bavaria's latest liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder engine, which displaces just a bit more at 1200cc but offers a heck of a lot more grunt: 167 horses to be exact. Yep, that's just about double the ponies, and it has the desired effect on the quad; 0 to 60 drops from about five seconds to just three and a half. With its super-fat rubber, six-speed sequential gearbox and reverse gear, this latest version of the quad-of-death should offer plenty of pants peeing performance. As much as we'd love to have one of these machines, getting it registered for street use in the States would likely be an exercise in frustration. Too bad, because the fuel mileage is probably pretty good, which is exactly the purpose for this machine, right?

eBay Find of the Day: Rocket-powered electric bike

The modern definition of a hybrid vehicle is any single machine with multiple sources of power. Usually, this means one internal combustion engine and one electric motor with batteries. This is again the case with the Biohazard Jet Bike, though its internal combustion engine happens to be a propane-fed turbine engine which spins at up to 112,000 revolutions per minute and produces forty-five pounds of thrust. The electric motor is powered by twenty-four volts of juice and is said to be good for eighteen miles per hour for up to twenty miles.

The bike also has pedals, though they are non-functional. From the looks of things, much of the cycle comes from the pedal-powered world, with a front fork and wheels cribbed from the bike world for sure. Still, this machine looks like lots of fun, and jet engines have been known to run on nearly any combustible fuel, including our personal favorite: biodiesel.

Derringer Cycles creates board track-inspired mopeds

Years ago, one of the most dangerous types of motorsports was board track motorcycle racing. As the name suggests, a steeply raked oval track made up of wooden boards was created and cycles with nothing more than an engine, frame and skinny wheels (no brakes, even) circled the track at high speed. Unfortunately, both the riders and the spectators were in extreme danger and after a few deaths, the races were shut down. Still, the vintage board tracker style remains a popular one even today.

Just as scooters have been setting sales records in these days of high gasoline prices, some see the moped as yet another logical way to save on some fuel. One potential problem, though, is that the moped isn't really seen as the fashionable statement that the scooter is. Derringer Cycles looks to change all that with its line of board track-inspired mopeds. Traditional pedals get the machine moving, and the extremely fuel efficient little engine takes over from there. Powered by a small Honda engine, expect top speeds in the thirty mile per hour range and fuel mileage of around 180 miles per gallon.

New range of small eco cars coming from KTM

Click the above image for a high-res gallery of the KTM X-BOW

KTM, the Austrian maker of some of the world's finest dirtbikes, is currently on a new product blitz which covers nearly every niche in both the automotive and motorcycle markets. While the company is currently rolling out new streetbikes, like the awe-inspiring RC8 superbike, the firm's first-ever four-wheeler, the X-Bow, has been generating tons of buzz amongst automotive gear-heads which would likely otherwise be uninterested in the orange and black brand. That newfound audience will soon be greeted by "the world's first frugal and eco-friendly off-roader" and a small city car, which could even see electric-only power at some point.

The new off-road model will attack the rally scene that KTM often dominates on two wheels. Somehow, the rally-bred vehicle is expected to be extremely light and perform admirably on both the tarmac and the dirt. The cycle-making firm's recent dealings with Bajaj will soon bear fruit in the form of three new city vehicles, one of which could be a modern take on the classic rickshaw platform. So far, Audi (which is owned by VW) has supplied engines to KTM for its on-road offerings, and the word is that both gasoline and diesel engines are expected for the newest models. It sounds like KTM is setting itself up to become a major player in both the auto and cycle realms, and rumors indicate that KTM may be the brand VeeDub hinted interest in a few months back.

Veken makes hybrid scooters for U.S. market

Updated with new URL for Veken Scooters

While we patiently (or not so patiently...) await the arrival of hybrid scooters from Piaggio, a Chinese firm has stepped up to the plate and beaten the Italians to the punch. Veken USA has created what it refers to as the VK-M50, and we hope it eventually gets a better name. It's the technology we are most interested in, and the 49cc gasoline engine coupled to a 500 Watt motor certainly delivers with up to an estimated 220 miles per gallon. The 36 volts of juice are provided by a lithium polymer battery that is good for up to 18 miles per hour, at which time the small gas engine kicks in to power the machine up to speeds of near 40 miles per hour and charges the battery. Obviously, this setup would return its highest fuel efficiency at lower speeds, but even at their top speeds, most 50cc scooter return excellent fuel mileage. The VK-50 has a suggested price of $2,799.

The company's website can be found here, but the specifications for the hybrid scooter have since been revised. We've had a look at the latest copy of their brochure, which is available in the pictures below.

Buell to offer Ulysses Police bike

Generally, when you see the boys in blue riding on two wheels, it's either on an air-cooled V-Twin Harley-Davidson or on a BMW road bike. Neither of these vehicles is appropriate when the road goes away, which could cause a few potential problems when giving chase. Buell, makers of the Ulysses, a bike which falls smack-dab into the center of the burgeoning Adventure Touring category, has decided to rectify the potential problem by offering a version of its on-or-off-road machine to the police. Differences between the Ulysses Police and the standard version amount to different standard side cases, a standard tall windshield, heated hand grips (which are available for the standard model as well), handlebar deflectors and an emergency response kit which includes the obligatory flashing lights and siren.

We wouldn't recommend trying a getaway under any circumstances, but the chances of shaking the Ulysses Police with its 103 horsepower V-Twin and off-road credentials seems pretty slim. As a bonus to the officers on board, the EPA rates the machine at 51 mpg urban/64 mpg highway. Seems like a pretty decent package, we'd say.

Yamaha branded Deus Ex Machina concept shatters convention

Click on the image to see more renderings of the Deus Ex Machina concept

If somebody asked us what an environmentally-friendly motorcycle of the future would look like, our best answer would be nowhere near as awesome as what Jake Loniak, a student at Art Center Pasadena, came up with. Perhaps that's why we are just bloggers who write about cool stuff instead of the actual designers. Called Deus Ex Machina, which means God Out of a Machine, the vehicle is a blend between a motorcycle and an exoskeleton.

Featuring seven artificial vertebrae, thirty-six pneumatic muscles and a head of its own, the Yamaha-branded concept looks like something out a child's worst nightmare. As speed increases, though, the two front wheels move outward, forcing the rider into a proper forward lean which resembles a current motorcycle stance more closely. In-wheel electric motors get their juice from a hybrid power pack made from Doped NanoPhosphate batteries and ultracapacitors. The designer believes that the machine could accelerate to sixty in three seconds and reach a top speed of seventy-five miles per hour. Sure, we're not likely to see anything like this in production in the near future, but it sure is cool to look at.

Kawasaki announces eight Ninja 250 video finalists

Back in March, we reported that Kawasaki was looking for video submissions from riders who have had favorable experiences on the little bike that could, the Ninja 250. It turns out that Team Green got a few hundred submissions and has placed the top eight finalists on its website. We spent some time going through them and some are better than others. We especially liked the videos from Emily Cohan and Brandon Zambroski. As you might expect, nimble handling, adequate performance and excellent economy -- around seventy miles per gallon according to one owner's video -- . give the small sportbike a lot of appeal.

The Ninja 250 may be the best motorcycle currently available to begin your riding career on, and as more people become interested in making the switch from four wheels down to two, these types of learner-friendly bikes will become increasingly important. With that in mind, the updates that Big Green has made to its beginner bike, including new seventeen inch wheels, upgraded brakes, and much-improved styling, are very welcome indeed.

Web-assisted early look at the 2009 V-Max

Click above for more early shots of the 2009 V-Max

Since the very first Yamaha V-Max was introduced way back in 1984, the motorcycle scene has seen countless changes. The V-Max, though, has remained steadfast in its ways, surviving right on through the break off of Star Motorcycles from its Yamaha parent. A look at Star Motorcycle's current website shows a V-Max from 2007 that is almost exactly the same as the first edition was all those years ago. That will soon change. Although the official unveiling of the machine that started the muscle-bike category is still a week or so away, the internet has struck out with a few early shots of the new 2009 Max. Early specifications point to around 210 horsepower from a new 1800cc V-Four engine, which ought to have no problem establishing Mr. Max as the new quarter mile king. Just how quick will the new V-Max be? We, along with just about everybody else, predict a trip down the 1320 to take a little over nine seconds. Yeah, it'll be the new bike to be seen on.

Twisted Trikes builds an Unidentified Driving Object

Click above for more shots of the Twisted Trike prototype.

What happens when you take the back half of a Honda literbike and mate it to the front half of a race car? According to Twisted Trikes, you end up with an Unidentified Driving Object. Still only a prototype at this stage, the Future Plans section of the website just says coming soon. Sure, this thing does defy classification, but we'll let that slide considering its laudable power-to-weight ratio, which nearly matches that of the original Honda CBR that the engine, transmission and rear swingarm were yanked from. We suspect that the ground-hugging machine is quite the handler as well, with its rack and pinion steering, coil-over shocks and wide, sticky tires all around. Because this machine has three wheels, it is classified as a motorcycle in most any state, so it doesn't need to meet automobile safety regulations. Regardless, we spot a roll bar to go along with the racing harness and form-fitting seat. Unidentified? Perhaps. Insanely fun? Definitely.

2008 LINCOLN MKX Recall


Ford has announced that they will be recalling certain models of the 2008 Lincoln MKX and Lincoln Mkk all wheel drive vehicles. The fuel tank weld fixture may have been exposed to a containment during production which could cause a dimple in the bottom of the fuel tank at a spot weld.

The dimple could result in a fuel leak or a fuel drip from the tank. Fuel leakage, in the presence of an ignition source, could result in a fire. Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the fuel tank free of charge. The recall is expected to begin during July 2008. Owners may contact Ford at 1-866-437-7332.

Harley-Davidson purchases MV Agusta and Cagiva

The rumored purchase of MV Agusta by Harley-Davidson is now official. The total purchase price of $109 million nets HD both Italian sportbike maker MV Agusta as well as its Cagiva brand. While most of the world will be focusing in on MV, and with good reason, we at AutoblogGreen have a particular interest in what the sale could mean for the Cagiva brand. After all, there isn't much fuel savings to be had with MV's line of super-fast sportbikes. Cagiva, on the other hand, specializes in eking the most power possible from rather small mills, which is both a boon to efficiency and makes its bikes extremely entertaining machines. Though they are not currently sold in the U.S., Cagiva's bikes, like the 125cc Mito pictured above, make perfect starter machines for many new riders in Europe, and an influx of cash from HD's deep pockets could be just what Cagiva needs to re-enter the American market. At least, we hope so.

eBay Find of the Day: 1923 Model T powered by Harley V-Twin

Click above for more images of the 1923 V-Twin powered Model T

Ford's ubiquitous Model T has seen its fair share of modifications over the years. Often powered by an engine other than what was originally designed for the large engine bay, countless variations of the hot rod theme have made Henry Ford's original mass-market vehicle a highly desirable machine to customize. Today, we've stumbled across an entirely new way to power the T, and it's just too cool not to share. Behind the custom spiderweb grille of this 1923 Ford Model T is a 1200cc V-Twin engine taken from the frame rails of a Harley-Davidson Sportster. Considering how little this vehicle is likely to weigh, the air-cooled twin cylinder mill with Screaming Eagle mods is probably plenty powerful to get the vehicle out of its own way. The owner used quite a few HD cues in the overall design and as many original parts from the donor bike as was possible. Note the dual rear shocks suspending the rear axle -- those are from the Sportster, as well as the foot pegs which now see duty as the gas and brake pedals. Nice work.

Officially Official: 2009 Star Motorcycles VMax, with live pictures

Click above for more live images from the official worldwide VMax unveiling

Back in 1984, Yamaha's then-new VMax set the motorcycling world on fire with its four-cylinder engine and mechanical V-Boost intake system which gave an extra shove of power at around six-thousand rpm. Riders fell in love with the VMax, and it has been the quintessential muscle bike ever since. Still, consumers have been hoping to see an update to Mr. Max for quite some time, and Yamaha Star Motorcycles has finally made those wishes come true. For 2009, Star will offer just 2,500 VMax's for sale in the U.S. If you want one, the line starts at your nearest Yamaha dealership and will require a $1,000 deposit.

Want to know all the details? Click on past the break for the full rundown.

The Piaggio MP3 drive along Lincoln Highway ends in NYC

It's taken one month for Dr. Bernard "Buddy" Rosenbaum, 71, and Bob Chase,72, to ride two Piaggio MP3 scooters from San Francisco to New York City along the Lincoln Highway. When the duo finally arrived in Times Square, they were greeted by media, friends, family and Piaggio representatives, including its U.S. Operations president, Paolo Timoni. The event not only showed that there are no age boundaries, but also that summer road trips can still be taken even during these days of $4+/gal.

2008 GMC SAVANA Recall


GM has announced that they will be recalling certain models of the 2008 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana G- cut away fleet van equipped with a 6.0 L (RPO LY6) V8 engine, 4L8OE (RPO MT1) transmission, 4.10 (RPO GT5) axle and 75 mph governor (RPO 9D7). These vehicles have a condition in which the transmission may be damaged due to first gear engagement at highway speeds and then does not transmit power with D4 or R selected. This may be preceded by engine shutdown if the vehicle exceeds 81 miles per hour in certain conditions.

The vehicle may be stranded on or near a highway, increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will reprogram the transmission control module and engine control module free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on July 30, 2008. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 1-800-630-2438 and GMC at 1-866-996-9463.

WSJ tests the OHM XU450 ebike

We've gazed at OHM's line of electric bikes already this year, and now we find a review by an automotive writer for The Wall Street Journal. David Patton tested the entry-level machine from the company, known as the XU450. The 450 stands for Watts, which the electric motor is able to deliver for short bursts. The rear hub-mounted motor can sustain a constant 250 Watts and the lithium battery is good for up to seventy miles, depending on how much pedaling the rider is willing to endure. Interestingly, the motor won't power the bike unless the rider pedals, so there are no free rides. Still, the top setting allows the motor to provide 200% more power than the rider is offering.

While we like the idea of electric bikes, the costs are going to have to come down before mainstream acceptance is likely. The XU450, for example, retails for a heady $2,195. Higher-specification models cost even more. Plus, its fifty pounds are quite a bit to lug around, as can be seen when you watch the video pasted after the break.

Chrysler offering even more incentives to close out July

The automotive sales sector is in a major state of flux as consumers continue to run from SUVs and pickup trucks into smaller, more fuel efficient cars. One manufacturer hit especially hard by this transition is Chrysler, a company that recently posted the worst fleet average fuel economy numbers of all major automakers in the U.S. due to its truck-heavy lineup. Still, the automaker has built up a large supply of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep utility vehicles that they have got to get off dealer lots somehow. To ease consumers into the fuel-thirsy utes, Chrysler has introduced new incentives of zero-percent financing for 72 months on the 2008 Dodge Durango, Chrysler Aspen and Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander.

While the lack of any financing charges will certainly impact the bottom line, it is nothing compared to the losses the automaker has been hit with over its past lease deals. In fact, truck and SUV residuals are so bad these days that Chrysler Financial has gone so far as to completely cut leasing out of its available portfolio starting August 1. The financing deals announced today are scheduled to continue through Thursday, July 31.

Valentio Rossi's new helmet a scream

MotoGP is the pinnacle of motorcycle racing and could be considered the Formula 1 of the two-wheeled world. Current series point leader and seven-time Grand Prix World Championship title winner Valentino Rossi has a habit of debuting a new helmet design at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, and this year's design did not fail to disappoint. Featuring a roughly life-size portrait of The Doctor himself in the middle of a scream, it was pretty hard to miss Rossi, even in the field of brightly colored riders and bikes. If you haven't watched the race and plan to, now would be the time to stop reading, otherwise, find out who won the event after the break, along with a link to the video of Rossi's debut of his unique new helmet design. Thanks for the tip, Gabriel!

New Ford KA

Ford made public photos of its new Ka model. The new Ka will replace the 12-year-old Ka, and shares its underpinnings and engines with the Fiat 500.

The Ka expected arrive to dealerships towards the end of 2008. Ford says that its engineers are working hard to ensure that the new Ka can match the current model??�s composure and pin-sharp handling, while offering greater refinement.

There will be a choice of 63bhp 1.2-litre and 100bhp 1.4-litre petrol engines, as well as a 1.3-litre Multijet diesel. The latter will be good for 75bhp and 145Nm of torque, while returning more than 50mpg.

The new Ka will make its world debut at the Paris Motor Show in September, and is sure to appeal to Ford fans with its attractive styling. Short overhangs, a steeply raked windscreen and arching roofline mean the Ka looks sporty, while being spacious enough for four.

Prices for the new Ka are set to start at around $15,000 rising to $24,000 for the ST version.

2009 Honda Freed

The new Honda Freed was unveiled today in Tokyo. The Freed is compact minivan, based on the new 2009 Honda Jazz. While the Freed retains the same width as the Jazz / Fit at 1,695 mm, it’s longer (4,215 mm vs 3,900 mm), higher (1,715 mm vs 1,525 mm) and it also features an extended wheelbase measuring 2,740 mm in length (vs 2,500 mm).

Honda will offer three variants the Freed on local market: a seven-passenger edition; an eight-passenger version and a five-passenger type which offers a large cargo space. All three variants of the Freed are also equipped with sliding rear doors on either side of the vehicle.

2009 Honda Freed will be offered in front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive variants, both of which are equipped with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that delivers an output of 120Hp. No word about the Freed will find its way out of the Japan.

Harley-Davidson newest MV Agusta suitor?

Click above for high-res gallery of the H-D Night Rod Special

First we heard ruminations that India's Tata Motors was considering a purchase of Italian bike manufacturer MV Agusta, followed shortly thereafter by similar rumors regarding Mahindra, another huge Indian automaker. The latest company rumored to be keeping tabs on a possible purchase of MV Agusta is none other than Harley-Davidson, which would provide some rather interesting storylines to consider. For one, HD already owns one sportbike manufacturer in Buell, which even uses Harley V-Twin engines in the majority of its bikes. Therefore, one might question the logic of snatching up another boutique maker of bikes with outwardly sporty intentions. Still, it is a well known fact that Harley-Davidson would like nothing more than to bring younger buyers into its showrooms, which is something that MV Agusta's stunning range of machinery would surely do. For fans of the Italian marque, the idea of Harley infusing some much-needed cash flow into MV should more than offset the shock that the purchase would likely make.

Transformers sequel roundup: Buell-based fembot, SR-71 and Audi R8

If leaked documentation, which you should avoid if you don't want to read any plot spoilers, regarding the upcoming Transformers sequel is accurate, it appears that Mr. Bay may be bringing a motorcycle-based female robot to the big screen. We've heard that the character known as Arcee was considered for the initial film but was discarded so as not to confuse the audience with multiple gendered robots. If the rendering seen above is any indication, though, we'd imagine that Arcee's pinky-purple coloring would get that point across right away. There are two female riders listed on a leaked Call Sheet for the upcoming movie, and it appears that they are to be riding the oddly-colored Buell in the film.

Also revealed in the leak is information that leads us to believe that a certain Decepticon may make an appearance as an SR-71, along with what could either be the shapely Audi R8 or the mystery car we showed you yesterday. If the German supercar did show up, it would end the all-GM lovefest and be rather interesting to see morph on-screen, as well. Consider our interest piqued, as if we already weren't.

British Motor Show: The Aspid. Ultra sports meets efficient.

Click for high-resolution gallery

Spanish company IFR Automotive has unveiled the Aspid at the British Motor Show. The Aspid is a new ultra-lightweight sports car. The Aspid (Spanish for viper, ahem) features a 2-liter I4 engine in two versions able to produce 270 and 400hp, the latter thanks to supercharging. This powerful engine, mated to a 700 kg (1,543 pounds) weight provides spectacular performance. The 270hp version runs from 0 to 100 km/h (62mph) in 3.7 seconds, and 2.8 for the most powerful version. IFR also announced the estimated consumption figures, that would be vaild only if owners keep the Aspid at speeds roughly around the EU mixed cycle. In that case drivers might manage 4.8 and 5.5 l/100 km, which translates into 49 and 43mpg (US) respectively.

According to the manufacturer, the Aspid is not a simple toy to take for a drive out for track days, but it's a capable road vehicle, something hard to tell from its design. It's almost completely made from aluminum and carbon fiber. It also sports plenty of gadgetry: GPS, GPRS, a complete HiFi system, USB, Bluetooth, Wi-fi, and Ethernet connection, because the Aspid gathers data you can download regarding the car's performance. And all this gadgetry, as well as most of the electric systems have been simplified to a maximum level to reduce weight. Impressed? They're taking orders already.

Officially Licensed NASCAR chopper seems a bit pricey

For those who just can't get enough NASCAR in their lives comes the Officially Licensed NASCAR 60th Year Motorcycle Series. The bikes were commissioned by Destination Daytona and built by Thunder Mountain Custom Cycles. Specifications include a genuine Harley-Davidson Twin Cam 110B motor matched to one of HD's new six-speed overdrive transmissions. While it's not a bad looking bike with its black-and-red paint scheme and whitewall tires, we question whether the fact that it's status as one of 60 officially licensed bikes makes it worth the $48,600 asking price. After all, there is nothing revolutionary about the bike, and it could be replicated for way less money. Just saying...

Whatever your particular opinion regarding the pricing, the bikes do come with some perks, like tickets to a private VIP motorcycle delivery event at the Coke Pavilion at Destination Daytona on July 3, along with tickets to the race that weekend. For the true circle track junkie, perhaps that would make the bike a better deal. The last bike, serial number 60, will be auctioned off to benefit Kyle Petty's Victory Junction charity in Daytona during the weekend of the Coke Zero 400, which will run as it usually does on the first Saturday of July.

GM teams up with utilities to prepare plug-ins.

The Wall Street Journal has published a very interesting article that states that GM is teaming with a dozen electric utilities operating in 40 states to prepare the arrival of its plug-in model (the Volt, if you didn't remember the name). From the business point of view, the article states that both the utilities and the auto industry have a lot to win. The plug-in hybrid car is seen as a "hot product" that can revive car sales, as well as reduce our dependence on oil. GM needs utilities which can keep the grid reliable for recharges, the same way it needed a reliable battery manufacturer for the cars to work correctly.

Why a safe grid? Think of what happens in a hot summer afternoon with all A/C working and energy at its peak tier prices and plants at maximum production. Intelligent chips and software tuning would identify the car as plugged to the electric grid and then use spare electricity to recharge. According to some studies, spare power plant capacity at night could feed millions of cars.

Honda testing ABS brakes on CBR600RR

Many motorcycles in today's market feature anti-lock brakes, including models from Honda like the Interceptor and Silverwing scooters. Now, though, the red-winged manufacturer of motorcycles has announced a new system which completely removes the rider's direct connection with the front and rear brakes. Instead of a cable connection, the system uses brake-by-wire technology and allows an on-board computer to apply pressure to both the front and rear brakes as it sees fit. This new system is expected to debut on sportbikes first, which raises some eyebrows in the cycle-riding community. The highest performing bikes have ridiculously powerful brakes which are capable of locking up the front tire very easily. Still, hardcore riders have proven very reluctant to give up any control to computers, especially on race tracks, where supersport bikes are expected to thrive. Being Honda, though, there is a prevailing sense that the technology will work. Expect the new combined ABS system to proliferate to all of Honda's two-wheelers in the near future.

VIDEO: Ford F-150 hybrid pick up truck gets 41 mpg

Pick up trucks seem to be vehicles that are ripe for fuel economy improvements. GM didn't do so bad with 40 percent city-driving gains made with their Silverado dual-mode hybrid but it's a far cry from what Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies (HEVT) has achieved with an ordinary Ford F-150. The Progressive X-Prize entrant has taken the plug-in path and produced a prototype that can go 15 miles on only electricity, get 41 mpg over a 30 mile distance and 21 mpg after that. Considering the vehicle they started with only got 16 mpg, we're impressed. Their alterations also give the truck more low-speed torque, V2G capability and 120V power availability. Pretty sweet!

They say the system can also be scaled for F-250s and F-350s. Heck, they're even working on slapping it into a school bus! This isn't just some shade-tree contraption either but rather the product of an early-stage technology venture developed under the watchful eye of Professor Ali Emadi at the Illinois Institute of Technology. HEVT has just unveiled their creation at the Plug-In 2008 Conference and Exposition in San Jose but if you couldn't make it to that event, we have not only a super video, but also a detailed press release after the jump.

MV Agusta scores Batman placement, will give away F4 superbike

It seems that motorcycle manufacturers are finally starting to see the value in product placement, as big budget films like Indiana Jones 4 and the upcoming Transformers sequel can attest. While the Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta has been making noise as it searches for a new owner, it has also apparently been hard at work getting its products the screen time they deserve. In The Dark Knight, Batman will have his very own custom bike to ride, but Bruce Wayne will be seen riding a new F4 superbike from the Italian manufacturer. To celebrate this achievement, MV Agusta will be teaming up with The Hershey Company to give away a new Dark Knight themed bike valued at $35,000. We clearly want to win this item very badly.

Mercedes cutting production in Alabama

As consumer demand for thirsty vehicles continues to wane, Mercedes-Benz is being forced to slow production at the Alabama plant which manufactures their GL- and ML-Class SUVs and the R-Class crossover. Sales of Mercedes domestic trucks fell to 5,090 vehicles in June, representing an 11.9 percent decline from the same period last year. The move marks the first time in more than a decade of U.S. production, that the German automaker has reduced output due to market and economic conditions. The cuts will affect more than 4,000 of the plant's employees, and unfortunately will trickle-down to hurt the countless other companies who provide just-in-time components to support Mercedes production.

2010 Porsche Cayman - Rendered Speculation Leaked

Hey there petrol-fueled-heart people. Did you hear that Porsche is planning to hit us in the near future with a new Cayman and a new Boxter S? If you didn’t, here’s the news.

We all knew Porsche was up to something, but we didn’t know what exactly. Apparently the new Cayman and Boxter will get direct injection, the new seven speed PDK transmission for faster shifts than the conventional six-speed manual box and a limited slip differential. Now stop your WOWs because there’s more. Because of all these, the Cayman is getting a 25 hp boost up to 320 hp and a 273 lb-ft torque.The other models won’t get direct injection, but something else. A displacement bump from 2.7- to 2.9-liters and a corresponding jump to 265 hp. The Boxster and Boxster S each will come with 10 fewer horsies under the hood, than the Cayman.

There’s also a Sport Chrono package included, that will be available along with Launch Control.

Seems like a good change under the hood, but do you have anything for us on the outside? Guess not now!

In the Autoblog Garage: Aprilia SXV550

Click above for high-res gallery of the Aprilia SXV550

After having it in our garage for the last few weeks, the Aprilia SXV550 can best be described by the word 'extreme'. From its extremely compact yet very powerful V-Twin engine to its extremely uncomfortable saddle, this is a bike that demands attention from its rider. Also extreme is its ability to wheelie and perform stoppies, so much so that it must be ridden with great respect on the street. The Supermoto category is basically made up of off-road bikes equipped with just the bare essentials to be street-legal. Off go the knobbies and in their places are spooned grippy sportbike tires on 17-inch wheels. This bike fits neatly into that category and was created with maximum fun in mind; but does the SXV's extreme nature take the joy out of riding it on the street? That's what we set to find out when we borrowed one for our garage. Read on to see how it fared.

Harley buys U.S. rights to XR1200 name, rumormill turns

Click above for more shots of the Harley-Davidson XR1200

Last year, the collective hearts of dirt track Harley lovers all across the United States dropped when The Motor Company announced that its XR1200 model was destined only for markets outside the states. It's not that a dirt track Harley couldn't be done, it's that the conversion was priced way out of the market for many riders. One company which offered just such a conversion is Storz Performance. According to, Harley-Davidson has just purchased the rights from Storz to the XR1200 name in America, which offers more than a glimmer of hope to the HD faithful.

Of course, no announcement has been made by Harley regarding a new Sportster model, but why else would the company go to the trouble of securing the name? As for us, we're pretty hip to the idea of bringing the sportiest Sporty to the market where the Harley XR originally made its name in racing.

Loremo unveils definitive skin for its high-mpg model

Click above for high-res gallery.

Aspiring German automaker Loremo has unveiled the newest images of their production intent model. Although they're only 3D renderings, they already show what the production model should look like. After the initial prototypes, the car gets the definitive shape, which is slightly more conventional in shape than before but also offers more interior space for its occupants. The long tail is still there, kept for aerodynamic reasons to keep the drag coefficient at 0.20.

Regarding powertrains, we will find three available, and they even disclosed approximate prices:
  • LS: 2-cyl turbo diesel, 20hp, 2 l/100 km (117mpg U. S.). 0-100 km/h (0-62mph) under 20s. Top speed 160 km/h (95mph) - €15,000
  • GT: 3-cyl turbo diesel, 50hp, 3 l/100 km (78mpg U. S.). 0-100 km/h under 10s. Top speed 200 km/h (125mph) - €20,000
  • EV: Lithium-ion batteries, 20 kW (25hp), 0-100 km/h under 15s. Top speed 170 km/h (105mph) - €30,000