Maranello, Italy, is famous as Ferrari's hometown, but some some of that company's alumni are aiming to put the city on the map for two-wheeled machines. Their new company, VINS, is building the most technically advanced motorcycles in the world, applying Formula One know-how to two-wheeled racers.
The key to the VINS Duecinquanta (Italian for "250") is light weight, the pursuit of which starts with the bike's engine. Two-stroke engines are lighter and more compact than the four-stroke engine in your car. That is why they have traditionally been used to power tools like chain saws that demand high power in a manageably lightweight form.
Two-strokes dominated motorcycle racing for decades because of the power-to-weight advantage, but fell out of favor because of their pollution. VINS has applied modern directi fuel injection technology to clean up the exhaust emissions, which could make street legal two-strokes a possibility again.
The light weight philosophy extends to the Duecinquanta's carbon fiber frame and suspension too. The front suspension is unorthodox double-wishbone design, more like car suspension than traditional motorcycle telescopic forks. Yamaha has notably used this design on some bikes, but it has never really caught on.
The rear suspension is innovative too, with linkage squeezing the shock and spring assembly from both directions at the same time, so it can provide the same range of suspension travel from a unit that is half the normal length.
The bike's slightly top-heavy styling isn't "styling," it is the result of the Duecinquanta's frame bracing for the front suspension and of its uniquely compact high-mounted radiator. The engine uses a combination of air and water cooling, so the radiator, which is normally a source of aerodynamic drag, is smaller, which contributes to higher straight line speed.
The resulting numbers are astonishing. Curb weight for the competition version of the bike is a scant 187 lbs. and the street version weighs only 210 lbs. The track edition is rated at 80 horsepower, but there is not official power rating yet for the street bike. By comparison, the carbon fiber BMW HP4 weighs 438 lbs., which explains how the Duecinquanta can rocket to its 150 mph top speed.
European pricing is about $48,000 for the street bike and $60,000 for the track model.