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?

MotoGP: Ducati Corse’s New “Junior Team” Strategy

08/02/2012 @ 11:11 am, by David Emmett11 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Ducati Corses New Junior Team Strategy Mugello Italian GP MotoGP Thursday Jules Cisek 08 635x423

Ducati is on the verge of a large-scale overhaul of a major part of its MotoGP strategy. In 2013, its approach to satellite teams is set to change radically, with its satellite structure set to receive factory-spec Desmosedicis that will have a much closer relationship with the Borgo Panigale factory, says Ducati boss Alessandro Cicognani. “The main goal is to have a more competitive bike,” Cicognani said, speaking to us after the race at Mugello. “In this scenario, we are thinking that the satellite team could be a help to achieve more effective results more quickly for the factory team.”

The idea is to take a leaf out of Yamaha’s book, Cicognani explained. “The strategy we are thinking about is like a Tech 3 but with factory-spec bikes, something like that,” he said, while emphasizing that the plans had yet to be finalized. “We are thinking about it. We have some ideas.”

Part of the goal would be to help speed-up development of the factory bikes. The satellite team or teams – talks are still ongoing with both the Marc VDS team and with Pramac about racing as a satellite team – would also be used to help test new ideas and see if they are worth pursuing further, without placing an extra burden on the factory team. The satellite team could be used to see if those ideas worked in a racing environment, instead of relying on just the test team and the factory team, Cicognani explained, though much would depend on the choice of rider and the strategy.

The choice of a rider would be key, Cicognani explained. Where in previous years, Ducati has simply leased out the bikes to satellite teams and left it up to the teams to find riders, instead, the rider and the structure around it would come first. “It’s a different approach to what we have had in the past,” the Ducati boss said. “The goal will be two things: to find the rider, and to put the rider on a Ducati. These two things have to be on the same side. If you don’t have the riders that are able to perform at a certain level, maybe this is not helpful, this strategy would not work.”

With Scott Redding and Andrea Iannone testing at Mugello this week, it is clear which direction Ducati is looking in. But Cicognani would not be drawn on names for the riders, saying only “if you look at Moto2, and you look at the stronger riders, the names are obvious.” Ducati is more interested in youth than experience, though, he said. “We want a young rider. Maybe not a rider who is already a top rider, but a young rider who still has to prove his capability, his potential. A rider that would in the future be a good step for the factory team.”

The structure will be as important as the rider, however. “We want to find the right rider, find the right structure, and put it close to the factory in terms of material,” said Cicognani. The team’s previous strategy had been a hindrance in terms of development, he added. “We don’t want to have two different bikes, because in the end, this doesn’t help for the development of the bike.” To that extent, it would also make more sense for Ducati to support a single, two-rider team rather than two separate teams with one rider, but the economic realities may not make this possible.

“I would say the ideal situation would be to have one team with two riders, because it’s easier in terms of logistics, and would be better. But again, we have to face up to the fact that the general economic situation of the world is not very good, so we may have to have a mixed situation.” The practical implementation was less important than the concept, however. “The most important thing is to maintain the idea we have. Maybe we have to adjust a few things, but the idea is the most important, the main pillar of the idea is stable.”

The two candidates to run Ducati’s satellite teams – the term Junior team is being bandied about, though Cicognani refrained from using it himself – are Marc VDS Racing, currently fielding Scott Redding in Moto2, and Pramac, who are racing a satellite Ducati with Hector Barbera this season. The Pramac team has a long history with Ducati, but the collapse of their parent company – the Italian generator supplier of the same name – has placed financial constraints on the squad. Ducati has strong interest in both; the Bologna factory has been interested in Scott Redding for quite some time, and has a long relationship with Pramac.

The financial realities are such that neither squad could field a two-man team unless supported financially by Ducati. Marc VDS Racing principal Michael Bartholemy said that operating as a Ducati junior team would only be possible if funded by the Bologna factory. “We would be interested, but only if they are interested in us,” Bartholemy told us. “If someone believes in us, then we can do this, but not if we have to pay.” Alessandro Cicognani had told me previously that the factory was looking at radically dropping its prices, after news that Cardion AB would not be racing a Ducati again in 2013.

The financial package is only part of the deal though. Involvement in the development process is much more key to Marc VDS Racing’s plans. The prospect of a satellite Ducati is currently unappealing – “It is better to win in Moto2 than to be uncompetitive in MotoGP,” Bartholemy said – unless there was an added incentive to take part in the project.

Having access to a factory-spec bike will help, but having input into the development process is much more significant. Sources close to the team emphasized that being involved in improving the bike and understanding the development process were key to any decision to move up to MotoGP. It was not about the money, they affirmed, it was about the development.

To get an idea of the depth of Ducati’s commitment to the idea of running a junior team, team owner Marc van de Straten was present at Mugello for Scott Redding’s test on board the Ducati MotoGP bike. Redding had been impressive on the Desmosedici, lapping comfortably inside the 1’50 mark at the iconic Italian circuit, with a second and a half of Valentino Rossi’s fastest race lap, despite higher temperatures and a much dirtier track than during the race.

The team was hoping to receive a proposal from the Bologna factory, but nothing concrete had appeared by the end of Redding’s test. Marc VDS are hoping to move up to MotoGP with Scott Redding, keeping much of their current structure intact, including key garage staff, but such a move requires a solid commitment from Ducati. So far, though, there are no concrete signs of any such commitment coming from the Bologna factory.

Ducati’s problem is that their plans appear to be currently on hold, as they await the decision of Valentino Rossi on whether he will stay with the Italian factory or whether he will leave to return to Yamaha. Once that decision has been made, more of the factory’s efforts can be redirected at completing their plans for their satellite teams for 2013.

Whether Scott Redding and Andrea Iannone – the other Moto2 rider currently testing the Desmosedici at Mugello – move up to MotoGP for next season will be dependent on the outcome of those deliberations. A decision was expected soon, Cicognani had said at Mugello, before the end of the summer break.

Photo: © 2012 Jules Cisek / Popmonkey – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. cheyenne says:

    Didn’t Ducati try to go that way back in 2009 when they put Canepa and Kallio in Pramac?

  2. Jeram says:

    Quick question,

    Why doesnt ducati field a CRT bike, using their desmosedichi 1000cc V4 motor that featured in the limited edition motoGP replica road bike?

  3. MikeD says:

    Anything as long as they sort it out…and make it a winner…again ?

  4. MikeD says:

    @Jeram:

    I think both Ducati and Honda have said to Dorna……….take those limping high on crack mules known as CRTs and shove them were the Sun don’t shine…and im glad they did…CRTs are a joke.

  5. Jeram says:

    fair enough :)

  6. Westward says:

    @ Jeram

    Not a bad question, after all it’s suppose to the closest thing to a street legal Motogp bike, taken from the 990cc bike Capirossi almost took to a title victory in 2006.

    However, I am glad to hear the proposed direction, and hope it comes to fruition. As I have mentioned before on others threads, I would like to see Yamaha and Honda field four factory bikes too. Honda has in the past had four, when Repsol was a three man team last year plus Marco at Gresini…

    I wonder what Rossi’s decision to stay means, that they can, or can’t..?

  7. Leo says:

    Ahhhh. How refreshing… I can already fell the German style efficiency permeate the Ducati way of operating.

  8. SuperD says:

    German efficiency has nothing to do with this. This plan has been in the pipeline quite some time. Of course the Germans will pump money into it, which is what Ducati really needs since they are a small company and cannot invest as much as Honda or Yamaha in their R&D. Stadler, AUDI CEO, said Ducati is and will continue to be Ducati, so German influence will be more on the organizational side than on the technical side. Remember, the Germans do not have the experience the Italians or the Spanish have in MotoGP, so they have only to learn.

    On Iannone, his riding style very much suits Ducati. The only problem is that he is in no way a consisten, which is a bummer.

  9. bretts69 says:

    @Jeram

    Why?
    CRT engine does NOT have to be based on a production bike.
    The D16RR has a 86 × 42.56 mm (bore x stroke) so would need a 5mm sleeve to comply.

    Ducati are good at making engines (casting etc.) and basing them around basic and modular designs (the 1198 can be traced back to the 851 and a Pantah engine). Just make a CRT spec engine (just as Honda have announced).

    What I take from the announcement is that the the Rossi / Burgess experiment has failed, and failed badly. They need young riders who will give it a go, take some risks and push the testing boundaries. Only then can they move the development forward.

  10. Spamtasticus says:

    Something that everyone should consider but I don’t see being written about is what Audi’s real motivation for buying Ducati is. Everyone thinks they bought Ducati because it’s sexy or because it has Rossi at the wheel or simply because it is such a desirable brand that they can somehow cross pollinate with. These points were certainly though of during the process but the real reason was fuel economy. Europe’s CAFE style standards average every vehicle sold in order to see if the company meets their strict fuel efficiency minimum. VW AG who own’s Audi is at a disadvantage against BMW AG on this point because BMW Motorrad makes motorcycles and therefore contributes nicely to the average MPG rating of vehicles sold. Now that VW owns Ducati, they can use all the Ducati’s MPG ratings to counter their large luxury saloon cars and get in under the wire. This does not mean that Audi is not interested in Valentino’s success or the MotoGP teams success but it does put a spin on what they may or may not be willing to do.

  11. Ryan says:

    I think you missed the fact that Lamborghini owns Ducati, not Audi. The Ducati mpg would only counter Lambo mpg.