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?

Moto2 & Moto3 2013 Jerez Test Preview

03/18/2013 @ 1:05 pm, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

Moto2 & Moto3 2013 Jerez Test Preview Pol Espargaro Moto2 Valencia Scott Jones

In three weeks’ time, the 2013 season gets underway for all three Grand Prix classes, and motorcycle racing’s winter will finally be over. Before that, there is a week of testing at Jerez, where first the Moto2 and Moto3 classes get their final run out on the track from Monday through Thursday, before MotoGP takes to the track on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Testing at Jerez may be affordable for GP’s junior classes, but it does not come without risk. Moto2 and Moto3 tested at both Valencia and Jerez in February, and while conditions were sunny and dry, if a little cool at Valencia, the test at Jerez was very mixed indeed, with rain disrupting two of the three days of testing. This test looks just as likely to be disrupted by rain: while good weather is forecast for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, Tuesday looks like being a total washout.

That will leave the riders with two full days of dry testing – for some arcane reason, IRTA has decided to spread the three days of Moto2 and Moto3 testing over four days, with the test starting on Monday afternoon, and concluding on Thursday lunchtime.

There is surely method to this madness, but unfortunately, IRTA does not have a press office, and so nobody to explain it. In the absence of an IRTA – the International Roadracing Teams Association, the official body representing the teams – press officer, the media are left to scratch their heads, speculate, and all too often, concoct explanations for themselves.

Despite the opaque organizational aspects, there is still much to be learned from both the Moto2 and Moto3 tests. The departure of Marc Marquez for MotoGP leaves Pol Espargaro looking like a virtual shoe-in for the 2013 Moto2 title, but it may be a fraction premature to be penciling the Spaniard’s name on the trophy. The Tuenti HP 40 rider is clearly fast – and going by the timesheets from the first Jerez test, relatively consistently so – and 2012 showed that he can race well enough, but he will face stiff competition nonetheless.

The new combined weight rule – instead of having a minimum weight for the bike in Moto2, now, bike and rider in full leathers must weigh a minimum of 215kg in total – will even up the playing field a little, and while Espargaro will be affected only slightly (the added weight of the TV cameras should be enough to put him over the legal minimum), it will give heavier riders such as Scott Redding a better chance of competing. Not so much because it closes the gap to Espargaro, but because Redding expects to find far fewer lighter riders between himself and the front after qualifying.

Redding has proven that he, too, can be competitive under the new Moto2 weight regime, but with this test once again at Jerez, there are still questions over some of the other riders. Both Nico Terol and Julian Simon have been fast during testing, but both men have been riding at tracks they know and love. Terol, in particular, is blisteringly fast in Spain, but less so outside of his mother country, leaving observers wondering just how much of his speed at (especially) Valencia and Jerez is real, how much is track preference.

The day of rain expected will not be lost on the Moto2 crowd, as it gives the Kalex riders another chance to test out the wet weather performance of the German Moto2 machine. In 2012, Kalex riders struggled in the wet, while the Suter appeared to perform well in wet, dry and mixed conditions. That situation appears to have improved so far in 2013, with Kalex riders being much faster in the rain-hit sessions at Jerez. But with Jerez being an unusual track – providing much more grip in the wet – what is really needed is some half-wet, half-dry greasy conditions to truly test the improvement.

Of keen interest in Moto3 will be which of the Spanish KTM riders has the upper hands. So far, Maverick Viñales has been quickest during testing, but there has been little to choose between the JHK Laglisse rider, Luis Salom and Axel Rins. Rins, in particular, has impressed, quickly upping the pace in his second season of Moto3, and showing he can be a front runner this year.

While there is a trio of Spaniards at the front – and a trio of KTMs – there could be more intrigue a little further down the field. The Honda engines are down on power compared to the KTMs, though the FTR bikes have traditionally been the better handling of the Moto3 machines.

The FTR Hondas will have company from the Suter Hondas and the Suter-built Mahindras in 2013, though all of them will need more horsepower to compete. That will also make for a more diverse group at the front, with Italians Romano Fenati and Francesco Bagnaia, the Australian Jack Miller, Britons Danny Webb and John McPhee, and the Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira.

We will know more about the state of play in the classes once the Moto2 and Moto3 men – and woman, with Ana Carrasco so far making a convincing debut in the Moto3 class, though Spanish insiders say that the cause of female riders will be more fully served once Maria Herrera enters the series, probably in 2014 – once the testing ends on Thursday.

The day after, we will know one of the more eagerly anticipated secrets of MotoGP, with Yamaha due to unveil its 2013 livery at Jerez, and then three days of MotoGP testing follows, at which the pecking order set at Sepang will either be confirmed or destroyed. First, though, the support classes strut their stuff. The season is not far away now.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

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

Comment:

  1. Westward says:

    Kalex was on a roll last season, and they seemed to have it together this season as well. If not for Marquez, Kalex would have had a title under their belts last season.

    As I have stated before, if Ducati had used Kalex instead of FTR, their fortunes might have been a little different and more encouraging at seasons end…

    Look for all the rostrum finishers in Moto2 to be Kalex in any random order….

    Kalex has proven their metal so to speak. They have shown their quality…