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Archive for April, 2016

Kawasaki Unveiled As Official Giro D’Italia Motorcycle Supplier

29 Apr

Versys650-Italia-1

To celebrate the occasion of becoming the official motorcycle supplier to the 99th Giro d’Italia cycle race, to be held between 6th and 29th May, the official WorldSBK Kawasaki Racing Team invited former Giro winner Damiano Cunego to the fifth round of the championship at Imola. Unveiling the graphics of the Kawasaki Versys 650 machine that will be used at the Giro. 2015 WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea and Damiano had a chance to compare and contrast their sports and exchange items of their riding kit as a souvenir of the occasion.

As well as the official Versys 650 Kawasaki will supply other models, a total of 30 machines in all, in order to better cover all the race direction/organization needs – such as relay race inspectors, support teams, medical teams etc., during the prestigious cycle race through Italy. The Versys 650 was chosen because is highly reliable machine, which has already been tested and approved by the Giro riding staff who help support the 3.383 km long race in the most arduous conditions imaginable. The Versys is a byword for versatility and reliability making it a match for any of the conditions it will meet next month.

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To launch the new initiative legendary cyclist Damiano Cunego from the NIPPO-Vini Fantini team was a guest of the official KRT Team and spent time with enthusiastic cyclist Jonathan Rea. ‘JR’ received the new official NIPPO-Vini Fantini team jersey and riding gear from Damiano, while Cunego left Imola with the pair of racing boots that Jonathan used to win both WorldSBK races at Assen recently.

Rea says he had exchanged some riding kit with Damiano, who is a legend in the cycling world, having won the Giro d’Italia and is a really nice guy, and this was the first time he had met him. Rea also noted that it was nice that Kawasaki and WorldSBK had made this crossover between Superbike and cycling as he too has a lot of passion for cycling and do a lot of his training on the bicycle.

Rea says he has made friends with a few professional cyclists and he knows their world quite well, and having a huge respect for them in the time they put in during training and the sacrifice they make to get to the top.

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“It was cool to make something together and ride together and share our experiences. I hope we will keep in touch and if I can get to the Giro this year maybe I can visit him on one of the stages.”

Cunego stated: “I am a great fan of racing, both car and Superbike. But I did not get to know it personally until today. Jonathan I am surprised about after our ride today. The Impression I had from TV is more than confirmed. We are linked by the same hobby and both of us work with great Japanese professionals, like my colleagues at NIPPO and Kawasaki in Jonathan’s case. I am not surprised he is world champion. He is a real rider at the top of performance, riding any bike.

Today, while we rode together, he was explaining all the secrets of the track and I think he can win this weekend. I want to thank Dorna and Kawasaki for the opportunity to be here today and ride on the Imola track. This confirms me as a fan of Kawasaki and Jonathan. I would like to see him ride the roads we use for the Giro d’Italia race, which now starts in one week. That will be my time to be the protagonist looking for a stage victory.”

Versys650-Italia-5

 
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Posted in Motorcycling

 

EOS 80D @ Malaysian Launch of the All-New Jaguar XF

26 Apr

Today the new EOS 80D was utilised for an actual assignment where its ability to capture news events was tested during the Malaysian launch of the all-new Jaguar XF sedan at EX8 located deep inside Subang’s Industrial Zone. Prior to this event, the EOS 80D had been used on two occasions where the coverage wasn’t an assignment but nevertheless, its ability were explored at those functions with ease.

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With the previous EOS DSLRs I had used, such as the EOS 700D, EOS 5D Mark III, EOS-1D Mark IV and EOS-1D X, all of which are great performers for events like this but lacking the ability to upload to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram immediately. This is where the EOS 80D comes in handy, having inherited a much improved, built-in Wi Fi feature first seen in its predecessor, the EOS 70D.

Within minutes of the unveiling on the all-new Jaguar XF, all I had to do was to enable the EOS 80D’s built-in Wi Fi function, as well as my smartphone’s own Wi Fi feature to enable the images captured by the former to be selected directly from the latter. I quickly selected 5 of the images, and uploaded them straight to Facebook.

Of course, the time spent on selecting the required images from the smartphone till the entire batch is uploaded to Facebook can’t be compared to the speed from direct uploading by the Android-based phone if they have been captured via the cellular device. But the final image quality captured by the EOS 80D after uploading is far more superior to what the smartphone is capable of – for one thing, the ability of the DSLR to use various types of EF lenses can be visually apparent in the captured images including a full frame Fisheye lens, which is not available from most phones unless it is an add-on digital effects.

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As for the all-new Jaguar XF, it is launched by Jaguar Land Rover Malaysia Sdn Bhd as part of the company’s continuous renewal of the Jaguar sedan range. The all-new XF is formed around Jaguar’s lightweight aluminium-intensive architecture, which sits between the recently launched XE and the top-of-the-range XJ, brings an unrivalled blend of design, dynamic capability, luxury and technology to the premium business car segment.

The XF’s dynamic, coupé-like design combines the outstanding proportions, elegant surfaces and perfect lines which define all Jaguar cars, with a longer wheelbase, more interior space and exceptionally low aerodynamic drag.

This photo below was made possible by raising the EOS 80D above the audience, and composed the scene via Live View from the camera’s swivel LCD screen. And unlike Live View from smartphone, the swivel LCD screen enabled me to compose this scene with the surrounding walls and projector screen to be parallel to the film plane instead of tilting backward.

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For the Malaysian market, the fully imported All-new XF is available in two variants – the XF Prestige and XF R-Sport.  They are priced from RM450,000 for the Prestige and RM460,000 for the R-Sport.  Prices include GST but exclude registration, road tax and insurance. For a premium ownership experience, every All-new XF comes with Jaguar Care, an exclusive programme that comprises a five-year warranty, five-year servicing and three-year roadside assistance.

Both available XF variants are powered by a 2.0-litre i4 turbocharged petrol engine with a maximum output of 240PS and 340NM of torque and matched to an 8-speed electronic automatic transmission with Jaguar Sequential Shift.

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The Prestige variant comes with distinctive features such as 17-inch Lightweight 15-spoke wheels, perforated leather seats, metal tread plates with Jaguar script and multi-function soft-grain leather steering wheel. True to its name, the XF R-Sport features a sport suspension, 18” Helix 10-spoke
wheels and R-Sport body kit, R-Sport branded multi-function soft-grain leather steering wheel and R-Sport branded metal tread plates.

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Both XF variants are equipped with technologically advanced features that befit its status as a premium business sedan.  These include JaguarDrive Control, Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS), Torque Vectoring and All Surface Progress Control (ASPC).

The latest XF uses Jaguar’s aluminium-intensive architecture to enable weight savings of up to 190kg lighter than its predecessor plus an increase in torsional stiffness of up to 28 per cent. It forms the foundation of the car’s impeccable ride, precise handling and superb dynamics.

The aluminium double wishbone design for the front suspension, widely considered as the best configuration for the front, is modelled closely on the F-Type’s for precise handling and steering response. Combined with Integral Link rear suspension and the near 50:50 weight distribution, the All-new XF is a joy to drive.

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Posted in Events, Reviews

 

Valentino Rossi wins Spanish MotoGP from Pole, Lorenzo 2nd and Marquez 3rd!

24 Apr

Photos courtesy of MotoGP.com

The Gran Premio Red Bull de España saw Valentino Rossi lead from start to finish, winning from Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez with ease.

All weekend the leading three were in a league of their own. Rossi, Lorenzo and Marquez had filled the top three spots of almost every practice session and lined up next to each other on the front row of the grid. The three biggest names in MotoGP were alongside each other once more and everything in practice had indicated that there was almost nothing to choose between them. As is typical of the Spanish GP, the grid was packed with mechanics, guests and officials but the riders did their best to block it out and run through their race plans.

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With all three on the same hard front and medium rear tyres, managing tyre life could very well decide the race but those concerns would come later. The sun beat down on the grid and getting into, and out of, Turn 1 quickly and safety was all any of the MotoGP riders were worrying about. Races can’t be won in the first corner, but they can certainly be lost. Right hands gripped throttles; riders leaned forward and tensed as the lights came on. Off the lights went, the crowd erupting into applause and cheers as Rossi made a great start to lead into Turn 1. But he wasn’t alone as Lorenzo was right behind with Repsol Honda Team duo Marquez and Dani Pedrosa within touching distance.

Perhaps the best start of the race was from Pedrosa who quickly put his RC213V into third midway through the first lap. Across the line they went as the second lap began as the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP pair stretched their lead. Marquez attacked Pedrosa into Turn 6, running wide as his line was blocked. Through Turn 9 Lorenzo launched a similar attack on Rossi, the Italian holding off his teammate as the Hondas clawed back the gap with Marquez now in third.

Fans were transfixed on the leading four, few noticing the incredible start of Eugene Laverty who was in eighth as the third lap began and the leading Independent Team rider. Andrea Dovizioso chased Aleix Espargaro for fifth with Maverick Viñales  on the tail of his Ducati. Dovizioso’s teammate, Andrea Iannone  was having a terrible race, dropping like a stone down to 14th in the opening laps.

All of the leaders lapped in the mid 1’40s, Rossi trying to escape as Marquez looked for a way through on Lorenzo. His lead would soon be over half a second, Rossi upped his pace lap after lap and drew out hundredths of a second at each corner. Before long the gap was at a second, Valentino Rossi seemingly doing as his teammate had done so many times before and breaking the field early in the race. No matter what Lorenzo did he was unable to close in on Rossi nor shake off Marquez.

Disaster struck for Dovizioso on the tenth lap as yet again, through no fault of his own, his race came to an end. The factory Ducati rider was forced to sit up as his Desmosedici GP encountered a terminal issue, forcing him to ride back into the pits and once again make the long walk across the garage to spectate the race.

Rossi and his team had focused on race setting throughout the weekend, ‘The Doctor’s’ work paying off as the gap soon grew to over two seconds as no one was able to match his lap times. Behind him Lorenzo had his hands full fending off Marquez, the Repsol Honda rider not quite close enough to attack but able to apply ample pressure.

Overtakes were scarce at the front but the battle for seventh place produced some thrilling racing, Pol Espargaro leading the group ahead of Laverty. Just behind them Andrea Iannone and Cal Crutchlow pushed each other hard for 10th position, not what either rider wanted before the race. In front, Pedrosa had Aleix Espargaro to contend with, Pedrosa working hard to hold off the Suzuki man. Since his fifth in Austin, Espargaro has been in some of the best form of his career after a setup breakthrough.

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With over half race distance gone, Lorenzo broke Marquez and opened up a one second lead on his fellow Spaniard. Marquez had chosen to run winglets on his Honda which assisted with keeping the front end down but also ran the risk of overheating the front tyre over the race. With ten laps to go, Lorenzo hadn’t just broken Marquez but he also began to close in on Rossi. A gap that was once three seconds quickly dropped to two and that gap continued to fall by a couple of tenths a lap, would it be enough with eight laps remaining?

His chances of victory would fade as Rossi responded to Lorenzo’s increased pace and once again dropped into the low 1’41s. The gap would grow to over three seconds, Lorenzo unable to push any harder and settling to take valuable championship points. Marquez also continued to drop back, his chances of a home victory long gone as he found himself over five second behind Lorenzo.

After a terrible start to the race, Iannone set about making up for lost time and quickly got past Pol Espargaro and ran away with seventh place. This would be one of the last battles of the race as the field stretched out, only a handful of riders within a second of each other.

For the 113th time in his career and the 87th time in the premier class, Rossi pulled a wheelie across the line to celebrate victory. After the disappointment of Austin, the result is exactly what ‘The Doctor’ needed. Behind him, teammate Lorenzo took his 100th premier class podium finish and Marquez was able to keep the lead of the Championship, his lead reduced slightly to 17 points.

Pedrosa withstood Espargaro’s challenge to end in fourth ahead of the Spaniard. Maverick Viñales, Andrea Iannone, Pol Espargaro, Eugene Laverty and Hector Barbera completed the top ten. Alvaro Bautista crashed out of the race at Turn 11 after battling with Cal Crutchlow in the opening stages.

The Monster Energy Grand Prix de France will seem them do it all again for round five of the 2016 World Championship.

VR46-Jerez-Spray

 
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Shell Unveils Ultra Energy Efficient Concept Car

22 Apr

Shell has unveiled a concept city car which, if it were ever to go into production, could deliver material reductions in energy use in the road transport sector. The 3-seater car is tangible proof of energy efficiency improvements that can be achieved by using cutting edge technology available today through a process of “co-engineering” whereby vehicle body, engine design and lubricants are all created together.

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Independent testing and a rigorous life-cycle study shows that Shell’s Concept Car would deliver a 34% reduction in primary energy use over its entire lifecycle when compared to a typical city car available in the UK. The Shell Concept Car would use around half the energy required to build and run than a typical small family car available in the UK and 69% less than that of a typical sports utility vehicle available in the UK

The Shell Concept Car is a total rethink of the Gordon Murray Design T.25 city car produced in 2010 for which Shell produced a prototype oil to improve the vehicle’s energy efficiency. The new car is the result of a co-engineering collaboration between world leading vehicle, engine and lubricant designers, with each of the three elements of the vehicle tailored to work optimally with each other. It takes a holistic view on energy reduction focusing on design material selection; reduced energy demand via aggressive downsizing, and streamlining while enhancing the efficiency of energy delivery through innovative engine design and lubricant formulation to minimise the impact in terms of overall energy lifecycle use.

Shell Concept Car_Side Angled, Door Up

The car’s gasoline consumption has been measured using a range of vehicle testing protocols covering both steady state and urban driving styles. Sample test results include a steady state consumption of 107 miles per gallon [2.64Litres per 100km] [38km/Litres] [89.1 miles per gallon US] at 70kmph/45mph and an improvement of 4.67g CO2/km on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) from the use of bespoke lubricants, equivalent to a 5% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to standard lubricants available in the UK.

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Mark Gainsborough, Executive Vice-President of Shell’s global lubricants businesses which backed the project said, “This is a significant automobile engineering milestone. I’m very proud of what Shell’s scientists and their partners at Geo Technology and Gordon Murray Design have achieved. Insights gained from this project could be transformational in terms of how we address energy use in the road transport sector. Energy use and climate change are major issues for society. This project shows that if we use the best of today’s technology, including cutting edge lubricants science, we could potentially have a major impact on energy use and reduce CO2 emissions. The improvement in economy derived from the collaborative design of engine and lubricant is impressive and highlights the enormous benefits achieved from close relationships between design partners. It also shows the powerful role that lubricants can potentially play in helping achieve CO2 reduction targets.”

The Shell Concept Car was independently tested at a UK certified automotive testing facility alongside a range of other cars under comparable conditions to measure fuel economy and CO2 emissions. In the formal NEDC test the Shell Concept Car produced lower CO2 emissions than both a typical petrol-powered city car (28%) and a hybrid car (32%).

Shell Concept Car_Dashboard

Shell provided all the fluids for the car, specially ‘designing’ the motor oil to complement and enhance the overall efficiency of the vehicle, principally by minimising friction. Shell’s Lubricants technology team created bespoke engine oil, based on its premium product Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology. In parallel, engine guru Osamu Goto’s group at Geo Technology optimised the three cylinder petrol engine by re-designing and optimising many of the internal engine components associated with friction. On the cold portion of the NEDC, these fluids reduced CO2 emissions by 7.1% and on the combined cycle by 5.0%, compared to standard lubricants available in the UK, again highlighting the value of co-designing engine and fluids.

Built around Gordon Murray Design’s patented iStream platform, the Shell Concept Car represents a radical rethink on the way in which cars are designed, developed and produced. It combines cutting-edge lightweight technology – the car weighs just 550kg – and is built using carefully chosen materials which have a low energy and CO2 footprint. Gordon Murray’s experiences in Formula One racing have been used to develop the car, particularly its crashworthiness and lightness. A number of the car’s components were created using 3D printing to accelerate the construction of this prototype vehicle. The car also uses recycled carbon fibre for its body that can be assembled for a quarter of the price of a conventional steel car and almost the entire car can be recycled at the end of its life. The car makes use of a modified version of Shell’s Drive App via a smartphone. This App provides the driver with real time feedback via an on-screen graphic which emphasizes the fact that fuel consumption is highly dependent on driver’s behaviour.

From a styling perspective, the Shell Concept Car offers a new take on the ‘tall and narrow’ look, and dials up the fun factor with its sporty central driving position and two passenger seats behind. The design produces an extremely novel seating arrangement allowing three people to be carried despite the car’s diminutive exterior dimensions and gives it a turning circle smaller than that of a London taxi, making it ideal for urban driving.

Gordon Murray, Shell Concept Car, Hidehito Ikebe and Bob Mainwar

 

 
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Posted in New Products

 

REVIEW: Kawasaki Z300 Street Fighter

22 Apr

Z300-Me

Kawasaki Motors (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (KMSB) launched the Z250 Street Fighter, a naked sports for its Z-series line-up back in September 2013. The twin-cylinder proves to be popular with the motorcycling public, and sold very well. From June 2015 onwards, the company introduced the Street Fighter’s elder sibling, the Z300, together with its sports cousin, the Ninja 300, to the local market.

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Obviously, both the Z250 and Z300 look the same, appearance-wise, as both share the same design, chassis, fuel tank capacity, tyres/rim sizes, brakes and suspension. What’s not so obvious are hidden from general view, as in the difference of their respective engine capacity – 249cc vs. 296cc. With an increase of 47cc to the engine, the Z300 has the edge in performance, pumping out 39hp over the Z250’s 32hp.

The increase in horsepower thanks to the extra 47cc of engine capacity means the Z300 is easier to accelerate to its top speed of 185 km much faster than the Z250. The Z250 hits 155km/h easily but needs to remain at full throttle for quite a while to enable it to gradually reaches up to 165 and finally 170km/h and stays there.

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In the same circumstances, the Z300 gets up to speed much faster, reaching 169km/h without breaking a sweat, and from there it goes up to 180km/h without hesitation the moment you push the bike to its full throttle position. While the Z300 is proven to have a much better top speed than the Z250, there’s no immediate feeling of it been actually faster than the latter where acceleration from 0-100km is concerned.

In this aspect, both bikes felt the same in the acceleration stake, just that the Z300 pulls toward the 170km/h speed more willingly than the Z250, which struggles to reach higher than 155km/h for the same feat. As with the Z250, the Z300 suffers from the tendency of its rear tyre and default softer shock absorber setting that wobble the bike when travelling at 170km/h and above at high-speed corners.

This rear side’s wobbling tendency can be solved by setting the shock absorber to harder setting by two levels and change the standard front/rear Thailand-made IRC tyres to better quality ones, such as those from Bridgestone, Michelin or Duro. In terms of overall weight, the Z300 is only slightly heavier than the Z250, weighing in at 170 kg with ABS vs. the latter’s 168 kg, which is offered without ABS for Malaysia.

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The inclusion of ABS made for safer riding especially with the way Malaysians drive their vehicles and using the motorcycles in the country, as lane changing and exiting the T-junctions without warning seem to be a favourite pastime with those road users. The Z250 tends to lock its rear wheel during hard, emergency braking which in turn cause the rear to slide and should the front end locks up as well, the whole bike is in danger of skidding off the tarmac particularly if it is wet.

The ABS in the Z300 ensures this tendency of both the front/rear wheels locking up during such a situation is greatly reduced, and the bike stopping in a straight line and remains planted to the tarmac without any sign of skidding or wobbling in the process. Any wobbling or skidding effect will be felt if the default IRC tyres are in contact with wet patches in tiled pavement or flooring particularly the metallic speed humps on bike lanes and the white lines/arrows on the roads.

Again, this wobbling and skidding tendency can be solved permanently by switching to better quality tyres on the Z300. If you choose to wear out those IRC tyres before switching to better ones, do put this in mind when coming across those situations in the wet and of clueless drivers sharing the same road.

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Great as it is, the increase in engine capacity of 47cc for the Z300 over the Z250 means that holders of the B2 license wouldn’t be able to ride the former legally as the Malaysian traffic regulations require the rider to be in possession of having either B1 or Full B license to do so. For those who possess either one of the required license, then it is not an issue.

In terms of fuel consumption, the Z300 has a slight edge over the Z250 – I managed to achieve close to 400 km distance of mileage on nearly 17 litres of RON95 fuel as compared to 380 km on the Z250.

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Posted in Motorcycling, Reviews

 

New Yamaha Tracer 700

20 Apr

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Throughout much of Europe, motorcycling is experiencing something of a renaissance in the key marketplaces. More people are coming back to appreciate that powered two wheelers offer an affordable, accessible and exciting way to discover another world and live another life. And an increasing number of riders are looking to expand their horizons by choosing a Sport Tourer as their next motorcycle.

Yamaha has recently released many exciting and innovative motorcycles to the market, and will continue to push ahead with its extensive new model development programme. In summer 2016 we will be introducing a sporty and versatile new model which will mark a significant step forward in the approach to the Sport Touring segment.

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The exciting and addictive new Yamaha Tracer 700 has been developed from the highly successful MT-07 platform, and is poised to attract a new generation of riders by strengthening and reinvigorating the current Sport Tourer line up. Offering an impressive specification combined with an affordable price – and featuring a bold and individual style – the Tracer 700 has the potential to transform the image of the Sport Tourer class.

Positioned to become the definitive middleweight Sport Tourer, the Tracer 700 is a natural step-up model, and is ready to expand the segment and reinforce the huge success of the Tracer 900.

The launch of this sporty new model also offers Yamaha the opportunity to rationalize and expand the company’s Sport Tourer segment, which will embrace the new Tracer 700 and also the Tracer 900, as well as the recently revised FJR1300 flagship models.

With its sports-oriented heritage – combined with serious long distance abilities and dynamic good looks – the new Tracer 700 opens up an exciting new era in the middleweight Sport Tourer category.

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One step closer to reality: introducing 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio on YouTube

19 Apr

These days, with the help of virtual reality and 360-degree videos, you can get one step closer to actually being at those places and in those moments.

Google first launched support for 360-degree video in March 2015. From musicians to athletes to brands, creators have done some incredible things with this technology. Now, they’ll be able to do even more to bring fans directly into their world, with 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio. And after years of live streaming Coachella for fans around the world who can’t attend the festival, this year we’re bringing you the festival like never before by live streaming select artist performances in 360 degrees this weekend.

Starting today, we’re also launching spatial audio for on-demand YouTube videos. Just as watching a concert in 360-degrees can give you an unmatched immersive experience, spatial audio allows you to listen along as you do in real life, where depth, distance and intensity all play a role. Try out this playlist on your Android device.

To make sure all creators can tell awesome stories with virtual reality, Google has been working with companies across the industry. VideoStitch and Two Big Ears are software companies, compatible with 360-degree live streams and spatial audio, respectively, on YouTube that are available today and more will be available soon. Google will also make 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio technologies available at all YouTube Space locations around the globe, so you can take it for a spin.

What’s exciting most about 360-degree storytelling is that it lets us open up the world’s experiences to everyone. Students can now experience news events in the classroom as they unfold. Travelers can experience faraway sites and explorers can deep-sea dive, all without the physical constraints of the real world. And today’s dream of going to a football game or a concert can access those experiences firsthand, even if they’re far away from the court. What were once limited experiences are now available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

 
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REVIEW: 2016 Kawasaki ER-6N

19 Apr

Kawasaki’s popular ER-6N made its reputation in the country by being one of the most reliable workhorses around as an affordable larger capacity motorcycle. If you ask most of the Malaysian motorcyclists (from 2006 onwards) what is the model of their first motorcycle after “graduating” from the likes of kapchai (moped) and 250cc types, their answer is surely the ER-6N!

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The ER-6N was the first affordable larger capacity motorcycle offered in Malaysia for the 21st Century. Previously, the mantle was carried by Boon Siew Honda and Hong Leong Yamaha in the 90s with their short-lived Shadow 600T and Virago 535 respectively at a time when cruisers were more popular than sportsbikes and naked sports. But the ER-6N, being a parallel twin 649cc, liquid-cooled naked sports bike, changed the course of the local motorcycling scene, which the Honda and Yamaha failed to entice.

For 2016, the ER-6N’s specifications remain the same as its last upgraded version back in 2011 but is now available in a new colour scheme – glossy black with grayish white. And the great news for Malaysian riders that have been eyeing the ER-6N for quite some time, the latest version comes with two goodies thrown in – 3-year Unlimited Mileage Warranty and upgraded OEM tyres from the previous Dunlop Sportmax D222 to the grippy Dunlop Sportmax D214 version!

All Kawasaki motorcycles imported or locally assembled in Malaysia come with a 2-year, 20,000 km limited warranty, whichever comes first but the 2016 ER-6N is the first for the manufacturer to be offered with an unlimited mileage warranty for its first three years of purchase date to the buyer. This bodes well for the ER-6N especially for the motorcyclists who used the bike as a daily commuting transport, which could raked up the standard 20,000 km limited warranty mileage within 10 months or earlier!

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By giving potential buyers of ER-6N an unlimited mileage warranty within the first 3 years of ownership, this shows that Kawasaki Malaysia has the utmost confidence of the model’s reliability in this aspect as a hardcore rider could clocked a distance close to 100,000 km within the said warranty period!

Having an unlimited mileage is one thing but how much difference does the switch to Dunlop’s Sportmax D214 tyres affects the handling and performance of the ER-6N? 

Quite a lot, actually.

One of the most common feedback by those who rode the earlier versions of the ER-6N could testify that outright handling is one of the issues that prevented them for riding faster than they wished. Of course, tyres are not the only aspect that affects a bike’s handling as suspension settings, chassis and swingarm stiffness also play a part. While the rear absorber unit can be altered up to 5 steps for harder suspension feel, the front forks are non-adjustable at all.

Also, the ER-6N uses a tube-type chassis and thinner swingarm than those available on the Vulcan S 650 and Versys 650, both of which featured the same 649cc parallel twin engine but retuned differently than the naked sports bike. Personally, I have always like the grunt and torque of the ER-6N even during the older days when it was fitted with the Sportmax D222 tyres. I have very little preference for bikes with ultra-friendly rider-ability, preferring bikes with massive grunt and enough torque to outgun rival makes when powering out of the corners!

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Inline four 600cc/650cc motorcycles may have smoother powerband than a parallel twin, which made them much more responsive and rider-friendly but this tendency also requires them to be higher revving to get similar torque when powering out of the corners than a twin-cylinder engine. With the Sportmax D214 fitted to the 2016 edition of the ER-6N, getting the bike into and out of the corners felt much more planted, allowing me to sometimes drift the rear tyre for more traction to get the most performance out of the combo.

With the Sportmax D222, the rear sometimes feel like its floating when speed is up to 145 km/h entering/exiting out of the corners but with the D214, the ER-6N could do the feat at up to 175 km/h without feeling any tendency from the rear tyre to give way nor slipping from traction. It’s really that good with the Sportmax D214 tyres! 

In other words, the D214 tyres also solved one of the major handling woes of the ER-6N, enabling the bike to be rode like a genuine naked sports, tackling the corners at higher speed with last minute braking and sliding the rear tyre if required, and still clear the bend without the machine slipping or understeer. 

In the one week of having the ER-6N (this review is standard, not long term), I have managed to give the rear Sportmax D214 a great workout but still not able to lean the bike to use up the edges of the tyre. There’s still half an inch of the tyre’s edges oon both sides that have not been graced by the tarmac yet. The front tyre, while very planted with solid feel at the corners, has not reach the extreme edges when it comes to leaning the bike into and out of the corners yet.

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All the glorious performances of the Sportmax D214-equipped ER-6N are housed in the same overall appearance as the previous years as there have been no cosmetic changes for 2016 other than the colours. And the fuel tank capacity is left unchanged at 16-litre, which holds 4-litre as reserve once the final gauge bar started to blink rapidly. Fuel consumption is a respectable 340 km of mileage after 15.5-litre! 

With its new 2-year unlimited mileage warranty and fitted with the better grade Dunlop Sportmax D214, the ER-6N has been given a new life force to compete with the rest of the naked sports bikes in the 500 to 700cc class. At a price that’s quite reasonable too.

ER-6N-4

 
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Jonathan Rea wins Assen Race 2, Tom Sykes 2nd and Michael VD Mark 3rd

17 Apr

Photos courtesy of WorldSBK.com

KRT rider Jonathan Rea took another incredible win in the Netherlands in Race 2 as a half wet half dry race saw tyre decisions play the key role. Joined on the podium by teammate Tom Sykes and local hero Michael van der Mark, Race 2 was characterized by nervous glances at the sky as the riders dealt their cards.

JRea_Assen_Race1

Sunday morning initially brought better weather to the TT Circuit Assen, with the sun breaking through the clouds to give the Dutch track a crisp, clear morning. With a lower breeze after the wind caused issues on Saturday, the race looked set to be in dry conditions, before a deluge interrupted World Supersport and saw a Wet Race declared for WorldSBK.

With Guintoli plummeting off the line, the two Kawasakis of Sykes and Rea took to the lead, with Chaz Davies’ Ducati and Michael van der Mark and Nicky Hayden’s Hondas in hot pursuit. As the conditions caused quick position changes, it was Milwaukee BMW rider Josh Brookes who emerged in the lead, with the damp conditions suiting the reigning BSB Champion.

TSykes_Assen_Race2

Saturday podium finisher Nicky Hayden, reigning Champion Jonathan Rea and local hero Michael van der Mark were the challengers, before Rea and Sykes were the first of the frontrunners to dive into the pits for dry tyres as track conditions improved, followed by Van der Mark on the next lap.

As the pack started to shuffle after the tyre changes, Pedercini rider Lucas Mahias found himself at the head of the race, with KRT pairing Rea and Sykes hunting him down, followed by van der Mark. As dry tyres became necessary, reigning Champion Rea took control of the race once again to take another win in WorldSBK and increase his Championship lead. Teammate Tom Sykes made a well-timed tyre change to come home in P2 and recover some earlier lost ground, and Dutch rider Michael van der Mark remembered Saturday’s standing ovation after a crash and kept the Honda on the track to take another home podium, keeping his WorldSBK rostrum record at 75% at his home circuit.

VDMark_Assen_Race2

2015 STK1000 winner Lorenzo Savadori was another superstar decision maker as the IodaRacing rider took his Aprilia to P4 and his best ever result, followed home by Ducati’s Chaz Davies, who was the lead bike for the Borgo Panigale factory once again. Honda rider Nicky Hayden, who had been challenging for the lead in the dry, came home sixth after waiting a little too long to change to slicks, mindful of the grey skies ahead.

Alex Lowes made up ground once again to end the race in P7 on his Pata Yamaha, in front of Davide Giugliano on the second Aruba.it Ducati. Leon Camier, after giving MV Agusta their best result of P4 in Race 1, again brought home a good haul of points in P9.

Xavi Forés crossed the line to complete the top ten after an impressive showing at the start of the race, in front of front row starter Guintoli on the second Pata Yamaha YZF R1, with the points scorers completed by Roman Ramos, Lucas Mahias and the BMWs of Karel Abraham and Jordi Torres. Josh Brookes, after leading and impressing in the difficult conditions, sadly crashed out and was unable to complete the race on his Milwaukee BMW, but will be encouraged by his incredible early pace.

Assen_Podium_Race2

WorldSBK will be back on track at the mythical Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola at the end of April, for the cards to be dealt and played once again.

 
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Jonathan Rea wins Assen Race 1, Chaz Davies 2nd and Nicky Hayden 3rd

16 Apr

Photos courtesy WorldSBK.com

Kawasaki rider Jonathan Rea has won Race 1 at the TT Circuit Assen as he cements his place as second most successful rider at the Dutch track. Chaz Davies took a well-fought P2, and Honda rider and MotoGP Legend Nicky Hayden got to the WorldSBK podium for the first time.

Assen-Race1_Group

After a great start for the front row, Tom Sykes lead from pole and was followed off the line by KRT teammate Jonathan Rea as both Kawasakis took off in the lead of the race. After a mistake by Sykes, Rea then passed the pole-sitter as the Ducati of Chaz Davies fought to catch the two, eventually getting past both as the lead group started to concertina.

Sykes was the first of the frontrunners to falter as the Kawasaki rider lost the front into T16, crashing out of the race but escaping unharmed. The group of Rea, Davies, van der Mark and Hayden was left out front in the race, with the Welshman heading the group.

Van der Mark, Davies and Rea fought for the lead in a spectacular showcase of WorldSBK, before the Dutchman sadly pushed too hard and lost his Honda, sliding out and leaving his rivals to a duel won by Rea. Honda teammate Nicky Hayden, after playing a patient game in P4, earnt his way to his first podium in World Superbike with a ride that shows he know has the measure of the Honda, and the Pirelli tyre.

Assen-Race1_Hayden

MV Agusta recovered from disappointment in Aragón as Leon Camier fought his way back from being denied entry to Superpole 2 by finishing in the Top 5 in an incredible P4; a great haul of points and show of pace from the Italian factory and a well deserved reward for the hard work put in by team and rider.

Pata Yamaha pairing Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes suffered mixed fortunes in Superpole and in Race 1, with the number 50 Yamaha of Guintoli starting from the front row and unfortunately ending his first Race in the Netherlands too early with a trip to the gravel. Teammate Lowes fought back from a crash in Superpole 2 to run in the top 6 before ending his race in P8.

BMW riders Markus Reiterberger and Jordi Torres, after graduating from Superpole 1, both ran close together in the top ten until Reiterberger ran off track, leaving teammate Torres to take another top 5 finish as the flag fell, with the German recovering to an impressive 7th, just behind lead Aprilia Lorenzo Savadori. Savadori recorded his best career result to date by coming home P6 as the Noale factory continue to improve and the reigning STK1000 Cup winner continues to impress, and the Kawasakis of Roman Ramos and Lucas Mahias, replacing Sylvain Barrier, closed out a top ten in which every manufacturer was represented.

WorldSBK will be racing once again on Sunday at 13:00 local time (GMT +2), as van der Mark endeavours to take the same pace to the end of the race, and Rea aims for another double.

Assen-Race1_Podium

 
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