MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

Living the Dream – A Photographer’s Story: Qatar

Imagine if just for once you didn’t have to stick to your usual nine-to-five job. Instead you were able to do the one job you’ve always wanted to do, but any number of things (it’s usually money) have stood in the way. This is exactly the situation I found myself in six months ago when the company I had worked at, for the last 14 years, decided to close, making everyone redundant. This decision did not come as a surprise; in fact, I had been hanging around for the last few years hoping that it would happen, as I had a plan. Fast-forward six months and I have just finished photographing the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar. The plan is starting to unfold.

Fuel or Electronics? Where Are Nicky Hayden & Scott Redding Losing Out on the Honda RCV1000R?

The news that Honda would be building a production racer to compete in MotoGP aroused much excitement among fans. There was much speculation over just how quick it would be, and whether it would be possible for a talented rider to beat the satellite bikes on some tracks. In the hands of active MotoGP riders, the gap was around 2 seconds at the Sepang tests. Nicky Hayden – of whom much had been expected, not least by himself – had made significant improvements, especially on corner entry. The difference in performance and the big gap to the front has been cause for much speculation. Where are the Honda production racers losing out to the Factory Option bikes?

Video: Brammo Gets Ready to Dominate in Daytona

10/11/2012 @ 3:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Video: Brammo Gets Ready to Dominate in Daytona 2012 Brammo Empulse RR Sears Point 07 635x423

The 2012 TTXGP World Series Final is about to go down in Daytona the weekend after next, and if you are like us…you probably didn’t know that, and now that you do, you probably still don’t really care. Plagued with inconsistent grids, considerable performance gaps between machines, and small grid sizes on race day, the North American TTXGP Championship was less than memorable this year for spectators. However, for Steve Atlas and the folks at Brammo, 2012 meant another championship victory.

Putting together a nice promo video for the upcoming World Series Final at Daytona, you can’t fault the Brammo crew for celebrating their Championship win — after all, all the Ashland team can do is show up, and hope that the competition does as well. Still, it goes without saying that everyone involved with the series would have liked to see some more competition in the victory. Maybe when the top teams from the other regional championships arrive in Daytona we will have a better show. Probably not though.

2012 Brammo Empulse RR Race Bike at Sears Point:

Source: Brammo (YouTube); Photos: © 2012 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

Comment:

  1. JohnEE says:

    Bike sounds like a Tie Fighter. Sweet Video.

  2. Casey Palmer says:

    That’s what happens when MotoCzysz doesn’t race all the races….. Brammo gets to dominate

  3. Bob says:

    Cool video. Maybe Mission Motors will show up?

  4. Jake F. says:

    One thing is certain, it’s not being marketed well. I live a little over an hour from Daytona, “like” the raceway’s facebook page, and this is the first I’ve heard of the Daytona TTXGP round. Check out their website http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/ it’s not even mentioned.

  5. JoeKing says:

    Wow…when even such a strong supporter as you gets cynical..(sees the light) about the electric “revolution”, I guess we know the end is at hand.

    I’m not surprised & predicted its demise from the beginning. You see for over 40 years we’ve been hearing about the “rapidly developing battery technology”..but the truth is; it isn’t developing anything.

    Look at the blistering sales of Volts & Leafs, a few yuppies making statements of their “enviro cred” & then crickets in the showrooms..even with taxpayer subsidised 5 figure discounts.

    Face it..its never gonna happen. Battery technology is a dead end..except for extracting gov’t grants. Attempting to sell them to motorcycle enthusiasts with lifetimes of IC experience is even stupider.

    Truth is..NO ONE CARES & few ever did.

  6. Joe, I think it’s important to distinguish between the future electrics in general, and electric motorcycle racing as it is today.

    I still believe 100% in electrics being our future, and the technology has made amazing progress in just the few years we have been covering it.

    Electric racing though, especially when it comes to TTXGP, has always been a land-grab situation that came far too early in the lifecycle of these vehicles. TTXGP was founded around the idea of making a quick buck, not a sustainable form of competition, and this year’s apathy is the result of that strategy.

  7. Dang, that thing does sound sweet.

  8. Jensen

    “Electric racing though, especially when it comes to TTXGP, has always been a land-grab situation that came far too early in the lifecycle of these vehicles.”

    I may not always agree with your sentiments, but the above is most concise, accurate assessment of the state of electric racing I have ever read. Bravo for saying it.

    M

  9. jzj says:

    Fundamentally, there are two types of racing: prototype and production-based. The TTXGP was not in a position, and manufacturers/privateers were not a position, to generate a true prototype series. Consequently, it got out ahead of itself. But now that Lightning will be selling a true race bike / street super-bike, and now that Brammo and Zero are selling really good performance electric street bikes that will make adequate race bikes, there is real opportunity for TTXGP to be interesting and competitive next year with a super-bike class and a production-based class, as riding skill and parameter tinkering will make the difference.

    Regarding electric super-bikes, I think that the recent news re Mission is its death-knell for prospects of its street super-bike, and the likelihood is that Motoczysz has proven its point and is now focused on electric drivetrain development and production. Similarly, Chip Yates/Swigz does not seem likely to further compete or produce its bike for sale. Could Munch produce its excellent racebike for sale? Possibly, but at the moment its seems that Lightning has the electric super-bike field to itself.

    Regarding production electric bikes, there do not appear to be any immediate challengers to Brammo and Zero. I expect the Brammo Empulse R to be quicker and faster than the Zero S ZF9 (it ought to be, for about $20,000 v. $13,000), and the racing Empulse RR will not have any competition.

    While it makes sense for each bike to develop its own niche to dominate in terms of street sales, it also works to the advantage of the racing show if there are enough competitors on similar bikes who will be willing to go to all the various races. Really, it is traveling to the races that is the biggest catch.

  10. JoeKing says:

    Sadly, Jensen you have blinded yourself in your zeal to the reality of electric transportation. If the “state of the art” can’t even engender modest participation let alone interest from the m/c race viewer..its done.

    The in-fighting amoung the various electric racing organizations reminds me of vultures around a carcass. They are not the proplem..its the show that stinks.

    5 years from now unless these manufacturers find a gov’t subsidized niche (like police or army vehicles) they will be history. Electrics plain & simple lack (sex) appeal & until a new generation of anti-enthusiasts matures(who are being brain-washed as we speak) the current riders will never trade their IC bikes for a tandem Segway, & that won’t happen in time.

    Watch

  11. BrammoBrian says:

    Michael,

    Whatever happened to this?:

    “I, for one, think Azhar Hussain deserves praise for getting us this far, and making electric motorcycle racing happen. The TTXGP organization may have stumbled, as has this new industry as a whole, but it is far from deserving of a post-mortem.

    It is, rather, time to get to work.” – Michael Uhlarik

    Whatever happened to the Amarok P1? I didn’t see you out there helping to fill the grid. Where is that a deficiency with the series?

    I hope that FIM and TTXGP figure out how to better promote races and encourage competition, but Brammo would race even if it was an empty track and our two riders, and even if Mr. Beeler thinks it is irrelevant. I believe that this is the most pure form of racing happening in the world right now because it has direct impact on real product and technology development (are WSBK and MotoGP bikes actually relevant to production street bikes?) and will influence the outlook for electric vehicles in the future. The attrition rate is high because the technology required to be competitive is developing a break neck pace. Brammo has brought a different configuration of bike to every event this year. We’ll have a new chassis and swingarm combo at Daytona. If you thought Ducati were scrambling to make changes to their bike for VR, you haven’t seen anything compared to what Brammo pulled out by Miller.

    If you don’t like the series, then don’t follow it. It’s not that hard since the coverage is pathetic. We’ll keep racing so that we can offer better and better products to our customers in the future.

  12. Bob says:

    I think BrammoBrian is right. You cannot write off electric motorcycles b/c they can’t fill a grid in an ill-formulated race league. High performance electric motorcycles have only been around for 5 years or so! Give it a chance for crying out loud.

    Ultimately we need cheaper and more energy dense batteries (electrics are heavy!). Given all the money and research be poured into Li batteries, there is a good chance these needs will be met. But time is needed.

    Naysayers like JoeKing are old school thinkers, mentally stuck in the 20th century. His type surely complained when computers were first introduced in the 70s, crying that the typewriter is king, ït has no sex appeal”.

  13. Richard Gozinya says:

    So the TTXGP is sucking right now. Does that mean everybody should quit, and stick with the extremely horribly designed ICE? Piston driven internal combustion engines are only practical because of one thing, the energy source. They’re woefully inefficient, wasting massive amounts of energy, requiring expensive, complex and heavy exhaust systems just to deal with all the waste. Hell, just making the pistons move wastes energy.

    For those who like to believe otherwise, consider that there’s about 35kWh of energy in one gallon of gasoline. The Brammo Empulse’s battery only stores about 10kWh. Now, how far can your bike go on less than 1/3 of a gallon of gas? Anywhere near that Empulse’s range?

    I’m looking forward to when batteries catch up enough to make EVs practical, and it’s going to happen. Another great thing about batteries vs gasoline: Gasoline will always have the same energy density, it’s never going to get any better, whereas batteries are getting better all the time.

  14. jzj says:

    Sorry to sound heretical, but as a dyed-in-the-wool advocate of EVs, I actually look at it the other way. I think there may come a time when graphene-based battery/supercapacitors will be sort of close to the energy density of gas (give it another dozen years), and/or batteries can be swapped or recharged in seconds, and in this way electricity can give gas a run for its money. But really, I would love to see a time when gas is only used at the race track: keep the smell and the sound and the machinery for those special occasions. In this way, I feel the same way about gas as I feel about fireworks and airshows: these are the best uses of gunpowder and weaponry — just as spectacle. (Just to be clear, I am far from a pacifist, but I would prefer a world in which bullets and weaponry were not used; just as gas should not be used for environmental and geopolitical and domestic economic reasons.)

  15. michael says:

    Brammo Brian

    You seem very upset by my agreement with Jensen’s commentary.

    The words that you quote from my op-ed in HellForLeather magazine of more than a year ago indicate my open defence of a clever and difficult effort in the face of many doom sayers, who were out to take a kick at electrification in its infancy. My support for Jensen Beeler’s statement, the one I highlighted, does not contradict those earlier sentiments.

    Jensen wrote a summation which is fundamentally correct, and which I believe defines the pressures and poor results of the North American TTXGP as a series. In a nutshell, he said that to organize a satisfying racing series you must first have racers, which requires easily accessible racing motorcycles in the class. But they are not available at a price or performance level that allows for an entertaining racing spectacle, thus placing the cart was before the horse.

    This does not mean that I don’t believe in electrification, the TTXGP organization, or Brammo for that matter. There simply aren’t many options for people who want to fill grids other than to dive into the enormous expense and effort of building a conversion (much less a prototype), which means that grids were small as a result. Putting together a reasonably competitive electric racing team and carting it around the west coast of North America cannot be done today without a significant financial investment, which could be raised through race sponsorship, but due to the poor promotional value of the series itself makes sponsorship very difficult.

    The second, and far more challenging hurdle is technical knowledge. As you of all people ought to know, it takes professionals with a wide degree of skills and experience to design and manufacture a motorcycle that works reliably and is not dangerous. If the TTXGP field are required to make their own bikes as well as find the resources to race them, as they currently are, the task is almost impossible to even experienced racing team operators. How many of the AMA 600 or Superbike teams leading in the standings could engineer their own motorcycles? I will tell you : perhaps 1 or 2. Again, as Brammo knows fully well, this is not about pulling some parts off a shelf and slapping them into a chassis. And even if it were, that is far more work and risk than most people are willing to make.

    You cutting remarks about the P1, our lack of participation and the not so subtle suggestion that I am a hypocrite suggest that you cannot relate to the actual costs and challenges faced by grass roots level electric racing proponents. The Amarok team has followed the series, and indeed every development in electric racing and production and has been a champion of all. I have personally staked my professional reputation by supporting the movement and have spent the better part of three years working towards the P1 project. Unlike Brammo, I do not have $28 million in funds to draw on, or a staff to handle deliveries and accounting. My family, business partners and myself do literally everything, after our day jobs that pay the bills. Even with your funding and resources, you do not have to lecture me about the intensity of preparing a motorcycle for production, or competition. I have been there.

    It pleases me that Brammo are the one company taking TTXGP N.A. seriously, applying a lot of resources to racing and self promotion, as it helps make this transitional period easier for everyone. When Amarok does arrive on the circuit in the future, perhaps along side the much awaited Brammo TTXGP spec racer, I hope we can compete together without the barbs.

    Michael Uhlarik

  16. BrammoBrian says:

    Michael,

    I was not “very upset” at your comment, just confused by it. Thanks for the clarification and I’m glad to see that you remain supportive of electric motorcycle racing in general. I retract any barb stated or implied. I’m also glad to hear that the P1 is still underway and I’m looking forward to seeing it hit the track soon. Well said about the technical competency required to design, build, and race a vehicle from scratch, much less one with all new technology. The only thing I would add is the logistical competency to get such a machine to every event and have it finish the race, much less win it.

    Just to set the record straight, our investors don’t give us money to go racing. We choose to do that ourselves and many of our staff have given up the same nights, weekends, and more in order to be a part of something special. We are now better resourced, but I’ll also remind you that when this company started it was Craig and I in a garage (with me sleeping above it). I get the grass-roots thing. Don’t assume that the grass is greener over here…

    I also believe it is important to note that many of the challenges faced by EV racing are also faced by gas vehicle racing. It is the motorcycle racing industry as a whole that is in crisis, and I think EV motorcycle racing (if properly promoted) is a way to attract sponsors outside of the traditional ones that want to take advantage of a story that can permeate beyond just motorcycling blogs and magazines and show up from time-to-time in mainstream media.

    Anyhow, glad to know that you haven’t turned to the dark-side and gone negative on us. There are certainly enough haters in this world…

  17. ttxgpfan says:

    Just to chime in 4 days late.

    I think the point we can take away is that everything and everyone in elmoto racing definitely started grass roots, and is pretty much still there. I’m talking teams, companies, organizers, bloggers (ahem), hell have you seen some of the tracks they go to in Europe?

    It’s all stupid small, and I am not convinced it’d have been any better if we waited. I think it’d be the same situation only 5,10,15 years later. In the world I am from mechanics are not the brightest bunch. Talented yes, but anyone who looks at me using a multimeter as some sort of voodoo, well . . . Mechanics 10 years from now wouldn’t be any better prepared to build any electric prototype than they are now.

    As I talk to myself in my little corner of the internet I like to think I have been able to put together a reasonable picture of what is going on. It looks like a giant catch 22. Everybody needs money, to get that money we need sponsorship, to get sponsorship you need fans, to get fans you needs bikes, and to get bikes you need money. It feels like the only thing everyone can do is their best to help balance all of these things and grow one little part at a time and work their butts off to reach critical mass (which I actually think is a false idea to begin with, but anyway).

    It also seems to me everyone takes for granted what we have now-a-days in the way of motorcycle race coverage in general. Like the FIM, Dorna, InFront, WSBK, MotoGP, AMA, and DMG all were just instantly successful and there were tons of magazines and blogs to get your race fix at. I’ve been watching racing for almost 20 years now. I remember things being fairly different back then. But that’s me.

  18. Mike says:

    I was at the track Saturday and Sunday, working with Thomas Petsch and his Munch electric racer. If you see a short bald older guy with a salt and pepper beard, wearing a tan cap with a round Munch emblem on it in any of the pictures, that’s me.

    I’ve been working with and on gasoline engines for probably 50 years. I also have a pretty good background in electronics. I’m no stranger to motorcycles, there are five in my hangar right now, some of them are pretty exotic.

    Electric motorcycles are the future. Gasoline motorcycles are the walking dead and they don’t even know it. Brammo went 171 mph in practice, the Munch wasn’t far behind (Mattias was conserving the batteries). In a few years, battery capacity will be much increased, prices will be down (just like we’ve seen in computers), and the electric bikes will eat their gasoline ancestors for breakfast.

    Don’t misunderstand me – I really, really like gasoline powered bikes. There was a wonderfully prepared KZ1000 which sounded great and went really, really fast, there was a very tidy Trident 750 triple, one of the cleanest race bikes I’ve seen in years, and dozens of Ducatis, BSAs, various Triumphs, a couple of KRs and so forth, all good stuff . . . but all obsolete.

    In ten years we’ll be looking at gasoline bikes the way we look at steam engines now. Hey, they’re neat, but you don’t actually want to GO anywhere with one, right? Electric bikes are a game-changer, in ten years they’ll be going at speeds you won’t believe, and have useful range as well. Best of all, they are quiet – the KZ1000 blasted around the track roaring its heart out – the Brammo and the Munch were almost as fast and quiet as ghosts – the most noise was the chain! They were so quiet if you didn’t see the start of the race, you wouldn’t know the race was on until they whooshed past you in a flash.

    The future isn’t quite here yet, but it is coming fast – may the volts be with you!

  19. Dwyanti says:

    I’m tired of the soul argument; it’s a cilhce and lazy way to be overly nostalgic about the recent past. Every engineer and designer creates objects that push boundaries, not hinge on creating a soul. The analog feel of the machines of the past may seem like soul now, but back then it was cutting edge stuff to get you from point A to point B faster or more efficient than the machines that came before. The soulful machines we talk about today were probably seen as souless when when they first came out.Looking forward to 20 years later when we look back on these original e-bikes as having soul as compared to the newer offerings. You know, these bikes may run for 500 miles on a single charge, but man I miss the soul that those old e-bikes had with lithium ion batteris. You really felt alive when you had to watch your range back then. They don’t make them like they used to. Let’s stop the soul slander and bring on the progress.