Simoncelli tribute

A tribute to Marco SimoncelliMotoGP loses its young lion

Marco Simoncelli’s arrival in MotoGP’s lead pack earlier this year was a much-needed boost for the series. Here was a man who didn’t care about the status quo, who wasn’t interested in merely taking his place in the dreary follow-my-leader processions that had become the norm in what is supposed to be bike racing’s greatest championship. Here was a real racer, and a real racer with a lion’s mane of hair.
Simoncelli- the lion's maneOf course, Simoncelli’s graduation to the premier class in 2010 wasn’t greeted with delight by some of his rivals who feared his reputation for fearsome riding. Simoncelli didn’t know how not to have a go. If he saw the slightest chink of daylight between a rival and the kerb, then he went for the gap. His childhood hero was Kevin Schwantz, so it’s no surprise he raced thus.

That’s why Simoncelli was becoming hugely popular, just as Schwantz had been. He was one of those riders you always looked forward to watching, because you knew that he was never going to just find his place in the pack and circulate. He was a fighter, who would do whatever he could to hunt down the rider in front of him. He loved racing motorcycles but he lived for the battle.

It is a horrible irony that the crash that killed him should have been an innocuous front-end lose in a 65mph corner, the result of which would normally have been nothing more than a helmet-full of Italian curses and a scuffed set of leathers. Usually, that crash would have sent Simoncelli sliding out of harm’s way. But when he went down the tyres kept gripping, continuing the arc of the corner. That’s what brought him into the path of two riders behind him. At least he never knew anything about what happened next.

Simoncelli was a racing throwback: scruffy and wild, like racers of 20 or 30 years ago. The lanky, hirsute Italian reinforced that link to the good ol’ days by assuming a Jimi Hendrix persona with his crazily unkempt mop of hair. When he won the 250 title in 2008 he celebrated with a Hendrix-style T-shirt, but in fact he couldn’t name a single Hendrix song! He wasn’t embarrassed by that and indeed he was one of those people who never seemed embarrassed because he was never trying to be anything but himself. He was funny and a bit eccentric and he made a virtue of his goofiness. If he messed up or did something stupid, he’d shrug his shoulders to suggest that no one is perfect, which of course is entirely true.

Simoncelli was just as fearless in the paddock. He was a great interview – not at all guarded in what he said, obviously excited about going racing and a delight to watch as he talked with his hands, those big arms always flailing around to emphasise every point. His honesty was always refreshing, especially in a paddock where too many people try too hard to toe the corporate line.

Simoncelli during an earlier crash

Simoncelli liked to live large and he would have made a great superstar. Asked to conjure up his dream dinner party, he named Valentino Rossi, Barry Sheene and Steve McQueen as his guests. You can only imagine how messy that would’ve got.

Rossi says Simoncelli was like his younger brother. They were born a few miles apart: Simoncelli in the beach resort of Cattolica, Rossi a short ride into the hills in Tavullia. They trained together and were often seen enjoying a beer and a pizza.

As a boy, Simoncelli didn’t only worship Schwantz, he also appreciated the talents of Eddie Lawson – the Americans who were once the yin and yang of GP racing. His aim was to become a rider who blended the Texan’s wildness with the Californian’s cool: “I try to become like both of them”. His recent form suggested he was on his way to achieving that dream.

He was stunningly fast at the start of 2011 but still had to learn how to run with MotoGP’s leading pack. The controversy that followed his Le Mans collision with Dani Pedrosa affected his results but by Brno he had put that behind him to score his first podium. He backed that up with a brilliant runner-up finish at Phillip Island, the weekend before his fatal crash. Phillip Island was surely the race that proved he had come of age, where he found some yin to go with all that yang. He was running a safe second when a squall of rain hit the track. Several other riders crashed but Simoncelli didn’t. He slowed down, had Andrea Dovizioso come past him, then counter-attacked to regain second place.

Like every racer, Simoncelli searched for that knife-edge between riding over the limit and not riding close enough to the limit. In Australia it seemed like he had finally found it. It’s a tragedy he’s gone and we will all miss him – he would have been a sight to behold on a 1000.

It started with a Christmas present
Like nearly all his MotoGP rivals, Simoncelli inherited his love of motorcycling from his father who ran an ice-cream business in their home town of Cattolica, a popular beach resort on Italy’s Adriatic coast. Paolo Simoncelli – who used the profits from his business to fund his son’s career – was a late starter on bikes by Italian standards. He was in his thirties when he bought his first motorcycle, and while he was visiting his local dealer, four-year-old Marco spotted a minicross bike. His father gave it to him for Christmas.

12 year old Simoncelli on the track

“I started riding the minicross bike around the garden, just for fun,” Simoncelli recalled. “Then four years later my father bought me a minimoto bike and I told my father I wanted to race. We went to my mother to ask her. At first she said, no, no, then after she said okay.”

From his earliest days racing minimotos around tracks in the Adriatic resorts – the crucible of Italian racing talent – he was well known for his willingness to rub elbows with rivals. During this time he began a bitter rivalry with Andrea Dovizioso that continued all the way into MotoGP.

After back-to-back victories in the 1999 and 2000 Italian minimoto championships, Simoncelli made the traditional step into 125s, winning the European championship just two years later in 2002.

Super Sic’s GP years
A tribute to Marco SimoncelliSimoncelli may only have been 24-years-old when he was cruelly struck down at Sepang, but he was already close to completing his ninth season in GPs. ‘Super Sic’ (the nickname came from his on-screen name abbreviation – ‘SIC’ – which was chosen because ‘SIM’ had already been taken by Julian Simon) started his full-time GP career in 2003 and took his first GP win the following year at Jerez. He only scored one more 125 GP in the next year and a half, his progress hampered by too many falls.

Nevertheless, his talent had been noted by Giampiero Sacchi, the man who had brought Valentino Rossi into the GP racing. Sacchi signed Simoncelli for the 250 Gilera team in 2006, but for a couple of years Sacchi wasn’t sure if he’d done the right thing. Simoncelli jumped off to often and didn’t score his first 250 podium until his third year in the class. The 2008 season was a massive turnaround: he scored his first top-three, took his first win and went on to claim the championship. He failed to retain the crown in 2009 after a couple of crashes late in the season.

Last year Simoncelli didn’t make the greatest of starts to his MotoGP career. “It was terrible,” he said. “I didn’t feel the bike and the Bridgestones were difficult to understand. I had some bad crashes, but we stayed calm and step by step we solved our problems.”

By the end of 2010 Simoncelli was on the pace: he scored his first front-row start at Valencia and battled for his first podium at Estoril. This year he took his first pole at Catalunya, but the first half of the season was spoiled by a number of mistakes.

Simoncelli’s GP career
2002    32nd 125 World Championship (Aprilia)
2003    21st 125 World Championship (Aprilia)
2004    11th 125 World Championship (Aprilia)
2005    5th 125 World Championship (Aprilia)
2006    10th 250 World Championship (Gilera)
2007    10th 250 World Championship (Gilera)
2008    250 World Champion (Gilera)
2009    3rd 250 World Championship (Gilera)
2010    8th MotoGP World Championship (Honda)

First GP: Brno, 2003 (125)
First GP win: Jerez, 2004 (125)
Total GP wins: 14 (12 x 250, 2 x 125)
Total GP podiums: 31 (2 x MotoGP, 22 x 250, 7 x 125)
Total GP poles: 15 (2 x MotoGP, 10 x 250, 3 x 125)

(Photography: DPPI)

New TVS Scooty Streak launched

The ever-popular scooterette gets a makeover

TVS Motor Company recently launched a revamped avatar of their popular feminine scooter, the Scooty Streak. The new Streak comes with new graphics, sharper headlamp and LED tail lamps. Apart from that, it has a contoured seat, lower than its predecessor’s to provide better ergonomics to the ladies . To add to it’s practicality, the Streak has now been given a mobile charger and lockable front glove box too. It was time that company brushed up the looks and features of the Scooty to keep up with the competition and hopefully, the new avatar of the Streak will attract new customers too.


KTM unveils the Freeride 350 dual purpose motorcycle

KTM unveils the Freeride 350 dual purpose motorcycle: Is this the same engine that the Duke 350 will get?

Slim, lean, agile and fit – Austrian motorcycle maker KTM, partly owned by Indian motorcycle maker Bajaj Auto has achieved with the KTM Freeride Dual Purpose On-Off Road motorcycle. Packing 24 PS under 100 kilos gives it enough edge for the beginners on a motocross circuit. The Freeride comes with a minuscule 5 litre fuel Tank. The specifications of the Freeride showcase that it is designed for better fuel economy with higher power as its intended for Off-Road Racing. With 24 PS coming from a single cylinder 350cc DOHC engine, 4 valves, liquid cooling and fuel Injection, the 5 Litre tank should be enough to last a single Off-Road Race.


The affordable Ducati

DUCATI MONSTER 795 INDIADucati recently revealed its first product developed exclusively for the Asian markets, the Monster 795,

in the presence of Valentino Rossi at the Rootz Club in Kuala Lumpur. Much like we have been expecting, the new Ducati looks quite familiar to its bigger and more expensive rivals, the main difference here being in the use of low-cost (comparatively speaking, of course) materials and a lower seat height (30mm).

Essentially a 696 chassis powered by the 796 engine, the Monster 795 ditches Ducati’s trademark single-sided swingarm and adopts three spoked rims instead of the 796’s five-spoke Marchesinis. The original Diablo Rosso tyres have been ditched in favour of lower-spec Pirelli Angel STs while the 803cc air-cooled L-Twin will now produce 87PS@ 8250 rpm, 7PS more than the Monster 696). Peak torque figure is 78Nm@6250 rpm. ABS is offered as an option and the bike will be available in three colour combos – Red (red / black), Arctic white silk (red / black) and Diamond black silk (red / black).

The Monster 795 will be assembled at Ducati’s Thailand plant – their first outside Europe – and go on sale very soon in Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillipines, Vietnam and Singapore besides India. Prices are undisclosed as yet but we reckon, it will cost around INR 5 lakh to 6 lakh in India. Which, needless to say, is a steal for a Ducati. Now, are you booking one?


GT650N Launched

Hyosung Garware GT650N nakedGarware Hyosung unveil naked version of their 650-cc sport bike

Garware Hyosung recently added a new product to their portfolio by introducing the GT650N, the naked avatar of the GT650R. This new bike comes with the same 647-cc, 90-degree V-twin motor that serves the GT650R.
The naked GT650 gets a new stylish headlamp unit, a new handlebar mounted on risers and, of course, a new price tag. The company has priced the bike aggressively at Rs 5 lakh (OTR, Pune). The performance of this bike is expected to be similar to that of the GT650R, but we expect a drop in the top whack because of the missing fairing.

Garware Hyosung GT650N white Bike India


Aprilia showroom in Pune

Italian marque makes its presence felt in India’s largest biking hub

Ladies and gentlemen, Aprilia is finally here. The legendary Italian marque has set up its first Indian dealership at Pune’s posh Aryaneshwar Road, and the complete lineup is already on display, ready for sale. Ex-racer and longtime motorsports enthusiast, Mr. Srikanth Apte is the man behind the showroom, named Arco Automotive. Mr. Apte’s family has been associated with Piaggio, Aprilia’s parent company, for over thirty years now, firstly with the three-wheelers division and now with Aprilia itself.

Prices of the Aprilia models on sale at Arco Automotive ranges from Rs.11.65 lakhs for the Mana 850 to Rs. 19.50 lakh for the legendary RSV4 R superbike in Factory trim. Then there’s the Dorsaduro that retails for Rs.13.20 lakh while the Tuono 1000 V4 will set back buyers by Rs. 15.60 lakh (all prices on-road Pune). Moreover, apparel, safety gear and ABS versions of almost every model are also on offer at the showroom.

The Fast And The Fabulous

The number of the girls riding two-wheelers is growing fast, and what’s growing even faster is their self-confidence and riding speed.

One of them has taken things to the next level by breaking all boundaries and records and entering the Guinness Book of World Records – not for her super-model looks, but because of her unparalleled biking skills. Riding at a breakneck speed, she set the Bonneville Salt Flats afire by recording an overall land speed record of 374.208 km/h on her Suzuki Hayabusa. Bike India presents Leslie Porterfield, the Fastest Woman in the World on a Motorcycle, who is now attempting to become the fastest person in the world!




Leslie Porterfield virtually vanquished the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2008 when she achieved a land speed record of 374 km/h in the 2,000-cc modified class, making her way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the ‘Fastest Woman in the World on a Motorcycle’. The title was previously held for over 30 years by Marcia Holley, motocross rider and stunt woman, who had attained a top speed of 369.12 kph (229.361 mph) astride a single-engine streamliner motorcycle in 1978.


Porterfield was also honoured as the AMA Female Rider of the Year. Among her many achievements she has been featured in the Discovery channel documentary, ‘Speed Capital of the World: Bonneville’. This gorgeous rider tours the world as a public speaker and as an advocate and role-model for the rising population of woman riders. She is a member of the prestigious Bonneville 200 MPH Club and runs High Five Cycles, a used motorcycle dealership in Dallas, US.



Interviewed By: Sarmad Kadiri

Bike India: You have been riding for 16 years now. How did you get hooked to motorcycles?
Leslie Porterfield: I bought a beat up old motorcycle at 16 for transport. I did not know anything about motorcycles and didn’t know anyone who rode them. I loved learning how to ride. I had no idea how buying that first motorcycle would influence my life!

BI: It’s quite a feat for a novice rider to become the ‘Fastest Woman in the World on Two Wheels’. What other records have you demolished until now?
LP: I hold many records. From the Production Class 1,000-cc record on a Honda CBR1000, a naked (“No fairings,” she explains, so that people don’t get wrong ideas), to a 1,350-cc record of 336 kph that made me the first woman on a conventional motorcycle in the Bonneville 200 mph (322 kph) club. I also hold the record of 374.208 kph (232 mph) in the 2,000-cc turbocharged class with fairings. I set a record of 376.5 kph (234 mph) in the 1,350-cc turbocharged class with fairings in 2009.

BI: When did you realise that you could enter the Bonneville 200 mph Club? Why did you choose a conventional motorcycle?
LP: I like conventional motorcycles. I am a motorcycle enthusiast. I chose them over cars and streamliners. Bonneville had always been a dream of mine to go to. I was in awe my first time on the salt. It is like being on another planet. Pictures don’t do it justice.


BI: Tell us something about your mean machines and the team that helped you break the world record.
LP: I have a great team and sponsors that help me prepare the bikes. Sir Speedy Printing and Marketing and Foremost Insurance have been a great help as sponsors. My fastest bike is a turbocharged machine with over 500 horsepower (507 PS). We have done much work on developing bodywork that is aerodynamic and fabrication of parts. It is truly a custom machine. It also has the best electronics from Apex Speed Technologies. It logs so much data, it is truly overwhelming! It helps us tune for the ever-changing elements at Bonneville and helps me be a better rider. It is great having so much information about everything that the bike is doing at high speed.

BI: Do you like to get your hands dirty at the workshop?
LP: I have a wonderful team and I also work on my own bikes. I often change tyres, tear down motors and do work on them. I try not to work on them during the events, though. I am too busy competing! I have a great team that works on the bikes if I tear them up.

BI: Racing is a physical and mental sport. How do you prepare for a race?
LP: I make sure I am mentally and physically prepared. I go over the motorcycle and am confident that it is ready. I then picture what I need to do to make the perfect run and get the record. I make sure my gear is ready to go fast, also. My Shoei helmet and Fieldsheer leathers are a very important part of keeping me safe.

BI: Which other motor sport events do you follow?
LP: I love MotoGP.


BI: You know, India might host a round of MotoGP soon?
LP: Yes, and I will definitely come to watch a race in India when MotoGP comes there!

BI: Do you have a motorcycle that you use for your daily commute?
LP: Yes, a CBR1000RR. I also own dirt bikes.

BI: Tell us something that we don’t know about you…
LP: I spend time with my four rescued dogs and volunteer to help homeless children. I also like scuba diving, racing cars (road racing), riding horses, flying aeroplanes and running my motorcycle dealership, High Five Cycles, in Dallas.

BI: Okay, now let’s do some rapid-fire questions. Your favourite food?
LP: Pepperoni pizza.

BI: Your hobby?
LP: I love to travel and meet new people. I travel extensively!

BI: Your favourite motorcycle?
LP: All motorcycles!


BI: You broke the Bonneville Salt Flats speed record on a Suzuki. How did you prepare the bike for it?
LP: Yes, it is a Suzuki Hayabusa. It is turbocharged, has a Falicon crankshaft and stronger rods, an MTC lock-up clutch, modified Airtech bodywork, Dunlop tyres, Marchesini wheels, larger fuel injectors and electronics from Apex Speed Technologies.

BI: Wow! That’s a lot of technology. Do you still own the record breaking CBR and ‘Busa?
LP: Yes, and I will be running both these bikes again this year (this time attempting to become the fastest person in the world).

BI: We wish you good luck! Any advice for young Indian riders and enthusiasts?
LP: Enjoy riding! Enjoy the freedom of the road on two wheels. Also, always wear a helmet and watch out for other drivers. If you dream of racing, follow that dream. You only fail if you never try at all.

Super powered!

Ducati reveals ‘Superquadro’ engine details for the 1199 Panigale

Ducati recently released some technical details and photos on the engine that will power its forthcoming superbike, the 1199 Panigale. Dubbed ‘Superquadro,’ the engine is completely new and only retains two elements from Ducati’s previous superbikes – Fabio Taglioni’s 90-degree L-twin configuration and Desmodromic valve control. The name comes from the massively over-square bore and stroke ratio of the liquid-cooled four-stroke 1199cc L-Twin. Bore has increased 6mm to 112mm, while stroke has been decreased 7.1mm to 60.8mm. This allows the more oversquare engine to spin at higher rpm than before.

Claimed peak power at the crankshaft is 198PS@10,750 rpm while peak torque stands at 133Nm@9000 rpm. To cope with the massively increased power, Ducati will be offering electronic ‘rider friendly’ power modes that lays down power to the tarmac in the most civil way possible. Besides increased power, the engine was also designed to reduce the overall weight of the 1199 Panigale’s chassis, the Superquadro acting as a stress member for the 1199’s monocoque frame.

The Ducati 1199 Panigale is set to be formally unveiled at the EICMA International Motorcycle Show next month.

New colours from Royal Enfield

The Royal Enfield has introduced two new colour scheme for the Classic range – Chrome & Desert Storm. The Classic Chrome carries chrome tanks, wide mud guards and oval tool box, apart from the tiger lamps that Royal Enfield bikes are famed for. It features a single spring saddle seat remind us 1950’s styling. While Desert Storm is World War era inspired, with sand colour scheme. The matt finish paint job, with the Royal Enfield monogram on the tank and the thigh pads, portray the same strength and grit that of a true veteran.

The Classic Chrome costs Rs 1,65,400 and the Desert Storm is for Rs 1,58,200 on road Mumbai, which are about Rs 10,000 and Rs 3,000 more than the current models respectively.

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Mahindra free fuel offer

Kareena on Mahindra RodeoTo give their customers some relief from the sky rocketing petrol prices, Mahindra two-wheelers recently announced their ‘Long Drive Offer’. As per the offer, the customers buying a Mahindra power scooter till the end of October will get a discount of Rs 1500 in their petrol bill. The offer is valid on all Mahindra dealerships across the country. Looks like the company has learnt the art of hitting the iron when it’s hot.