Real riders on real bikes
Honda CBR1000RR FirebladeHonda’s mighty Fireblade has been around for the last 13 years, which is quite a time to be at the top of the big sportsbike charts across the world.
But, the bike has been constantly refined over the years to make the latest version - the CBR1000RR - the very best yet. What makes this the case is that Honda is very good at bringing ideas from the racetrack on to road bikes. It’s little wonder then that the latest Fireblade features the Honda RC211V’s centre-up exhaust system, the Unit Pro-Link rear suspension and Honda’s Electronic Steering Damper system - HESD. All of these things have been seen on their MotoGP machine in recent years.
But the biggest overall thing to trickle down from the racing department are the looks. The appearance of the bike is very similar to that of the MotoGP bike and this is one of the things that make it a winner.
Performance-wise the Honda seems to make 150bhp+ (112kW+) accessible and easy to use. The overall balance of the chassis, allied to a steering damper which slacks off when you’re trickling through the city but winds up as the speed - and bumps - build up, mean it’s the sensible choice for someone who wants a bike as un-sensible as a 1000cc sportsbike!
Fast factsHonda CBR1000RR Fireblade
Engine: 1000cc liquid-cooled
Power: 153.8bhp (114.7 kW) at 11,000 rpm
Torque: 79.5lb/ft (107.8 Newton Metres) at 8500 rpm
Weight: 179 kilos (394.7lb)
Seat height: 820mm
Top speed: 180mph
Italjet Jet Set 50FEW 50cc SCOOTERS look as classy as the little Italjet Jet Set 50. Coming from Italjet’s range of three Jet Set scooters - the 50, 125 and 150cc versions, the smallest of the family still has good looks and impeccable manners of the larger machines, even if the engine is the least powerful.
The Jet Set 50 is powered by an air-cooled two-stroke motor which can hit 45mph (72.4km/hr), which while it isn’t a lot, the instant go from the motor at the first twist of the throttle is quite impressive for such a small capacity machine.
Storage space under the seat is a little on the small side, but there is an extra storage area which, like a car’s glove box, can hold a mobile phone and a few extras. Backing this up is a useful luggage hook under the handlebars meaning that a few bags of shopping can be safely secured and held between your legs and the footboards. Brakes do the job too, a disc at the front and a drum at the back all slow the lightweight 92 kilo (202.9lb) scooter down admirably.
The dashboard also looks as good as the outside, featuring a traditional speedometer, fuel gauge, clock and information lights - although these can be hard to see in direct sunlight.
But it’s the styling of the Jet Set which really sets it apart from the pack. The smooth, contoured lines of the little scooter owe more to a sports coupe than a two-wheeled practical means of transport. Who said only people on big bikes should get all the attention?
Fast factsItaljet Jet Set 50
Engine: 49cc air-cooled, oil-injected single cylinder two-stroke with electric start
Weight: 92 kilos (202.9lb)
Length: 1850 mm
Seat height: 780 mm
Top speed: 45mph
Kawasaki VN2000CRUISERS DON’T come much bigger than this: Kawasaki’s VN2000 is a whole two-litres of serious mean-machine and is currently the biggest V-twin motorcycle in production!
This is a proper cruiser: it has a 52-degree V-twin engine, lots of chrome, push-rods operating the valves and massive slash-cut exhausts set on the right-hand side of the bike.
Just look at the bike. It’s long, it’s low and the styling is simply jaw-dropping. At the front you have what Kawasaki call the ‘Gatling gun’ projector headlights where a series of four attractive, projector ‘dipped’ headlights back up the single main-beam below. The whole headlight cluster is encased in deep, thick chrome, which pulls back fluidly into long, chrome handlebars.
Yes, you can’t help but feel special even when you just sit on the VN2000. Riding the VN is a problem, though... Not a problem because of it’s huge weight (the bike is actually very well balanced) nor is it because the thing lacks torque - performance of the motor and especially the fuel-injection is superb - it’s a problem because you can’t see yourself on it! Riding past glass-fronted buildings is a must on the VN2000. Top speed on a cruiser is irrelevant - after all at 130mph people can’t see you on the VN2000, and that’s precisely what you want them to do. And, if you keep your speed down you can easily squeeze 170 miles (275km) out of the tank before the reserve light blinks into life.
Everything on a bike like this should be relaxed, unhurried, meaning that all-in-all there’s few more effective ways of getting noticed on two wheels!
Fast factsKawasaki VN2000
Engine: 2053cc liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-twin with four-valves per cylinder, fuel-injection and five-speed gearbox
Power: 100bhp (76 kW) at 4800 rpm
Torque: 130lb/ft (177 Newton Metres) at 3200 rpm
Weight: 340 kilos (749.7lb)
Wheelbase: 1735 mm
Length: 2535 mm
Seat height: 690 mm
Top speed: 130mph