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 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?

Jerez MotoGP Test – Saturday Round Up

03/24/2013 @ 1:29 am, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

Jerez MotoGP Test   Saturday Round Up valentino rossi yamaha motogp jerez test 635x423

It rained today in Jerez. Boy did it rain. The heavens were open for much of the day, with the intensity of the rain varying between a light drizzle and an absolute deluge, sending people scurrying for cover when the skies darkened too much.

A few brave souls ventured out to put in laps, but they did not last very long in the conditions. Until around 3pm, that is, when the rain let up, at least for an hour or so, and everyone took to the track. For two hours, testing was at full tilt, before the rain returned to chase most of the MotoGP men back into the pits.

Though having that much rain is hardly what the riders ordered, it still has its advantages. “It’s good to be able to test on a fully wet track,” Wilco Zeelenberg said after testing. “Normally, it’s that half-wet, half-dry stuff, which is hopeless.” Real work could be done on a wet set up, and lessons learned for 2013.

One of those lessons proved to be that the rain tires Bridgestone brought to Jerez are not as hardy as they may need to be. “The performance drops a lot after six, seven laps,” Valentino Rossi told the press, explaining that the center of the tire wears very quickly.

He was not the only one to complain: all of the factory riders, along with Cal Crutchlow, complained of the same thing. They had all destroyed two sets of rain tires in just a couple of hours, and with just four sets of rain tires to last the three days, they would not be able to manage if it rains on all three days.

The reason the tires are being destroyed is fairly simple: the asphalt at Jerez is extremely abrasive, and provides an awful lot of grip even in the wet – the fact thatJorge Lorenzo’s fastest time on a fully wet track was just 8 seconds off the dry race lap record speaks volumes of how much grip there is in the wet.

Combine that with the fact that the extra horsepower provided by the 1000cc MotoGP machines means they require a different riding style, standing the bike up much earlier to get the bike onto the fat part of the tire and using the extra acceleration of the bike.

In the wet, the extra power and the stand-it-up-early riding style is shredding the rear quickly, especially on the abrasive Jerez circuit. At greasy tracks like Le Mans or Sepang, that won’t be so much of a problem.

Speaking of standing it up, I spent some time at the hairpin, before the front straight, watching the riders during the busiest part of the day. I had gone specifically to watch Marc Marquez, having heard reports from people in Sepang of his extraordinary riding style. There, it was the fact that the young Spanish prodigy was starting to tip the bike in while his rear wheel was still in the air, something that was impossible in the wet conditions at Jerez.

At Jerez, what makes him special was visible on corner exit: it was clear that Marquez was getting on the gas earlier than any of the other riders, standing the bike up early to grab as much drive as possible.

But how he did that was remarkable: accelerating hard shortly after the apex, he seemed to be using the tendency of the bike to fling itself outward to help get the bike upright, before catching it and giving it even more throttle, accelerating even harder before getting completely upright and firing off down the straight.

It looked eerily similar to catching a highside, using the centripetal force of the bike to help get it stood up, done twice in short succession on the exit of the corner.

LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was using a similar style, but where Bradl seemed to be using a lot of physical effort to get the bike upright, Marquez looked to be letting the bike do all the work. It is a risky strategy, because if the bike does too much work, then Marquez could easily find himself on a flyby of the International Space Station, but it is similar to the method he used in Moto2, where he won by exiting corners faster.

It is also reminiscent of the man he replaced, Casey Stoner. Stoner’s style looked ragged and aggressive, but it was only the bike that moved around when Stoner rode it, the Australian himself sat perched smoothly and calmly aboard the bike. Marquez is much the same: he looks wild, spectacular, but look just at his body, and he is in total control, not expending much effort at all.

I also had time to watch Valentino Rossi at the hairpin, and good place to watch riders under braking and getting the bike to turn. It was a totally different prospect to the man I watched on the Ducati, exuding confidence, pleasure, looking totally at ease on the bike.

Rossi’s problem is that he is still two seconds behind his teammate, and a second behind the two Repsol Hondas, but it is hard to compare times precisely. Though Rossi was effusive in his praise of his teammate, pointing out that a 1’47 lap in conditions like that is an extraordinary feat, but he also said that timing of laps was crucial.

Going out with a new tire at just the right time, when the standing water and rivulets crossing the track had disappeared, was key to turning a fast lap, and Rossi had not got that combination right. It is not something you can plan for, with only four sets of rain tires, and wasting a set of tires just to chase a fast lap was not worth it.

He had also had a recurrence of the electrical problem he had suffered in Sepang. Rossi fans had feared that the Italian had inherited the bad juju which had plagued Ben Spies when he was in the garage next to Jorge Lorenzo, after a series of niggles had halted progress in Sepang.

But Rossi told reporters that his problems were down to a single part, rather than the multiple problems Spies seemed to suffer. Rossi’s problem kept on rearing its ugly head, and neither Yamaha nor his crew had found a solution to it just yet. The problem being down to just a single part is hopeful, meaning that it should at least be something which can be fixed.

Rossi was also full of praise for both Michele Pirro and Andrea Iannone. Pirro’s fast time was to be expected, he said, given the number of laps Pirro had done and the tires he appeared to be using. But Iannone being so fast – the Pramac Ducati man ended the day in 4th, ahead of both Pirro and Rossi himself, and half a second off the time of Pedrosa – that was something impressive, Rossi said.

Cal Crutchlow had a lot to say after the first day of testing, though not much of it had to do with the testing itself. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man made no secret of his disappointment at the gap between his bike and the factory Yamahas, and Yamaha’s chosen strategy of having clearly different levels of development between the satellite and factory machines.

At Honda, the approach is different: all four bikes start the season in almost identical trim, the factory machines getting upgrades first, with satellite bikes following a few races later. That was not the case at Yamaha, Crutchlow said. “My bike is basically the same bike which Lorenzo started last season on,” he said, adding that they were a year or more behind the factory team.

The bikes of Bradl and Alvaro Bautista were identical to the Repsol bikes, Crutchlow said, joking that even Bautista’s suspension was the same. The Gresini team are using Showa, rather than Ohlins suspension, but Bautista’s bike was using “Ohlins painted black” Crutchlow quipped.

The Tech 3 man accepted that this was what he had to fight the season with, but said he was disappointed in the lack of support from Yamaha. “If I’m even half competitive with what I’ve got, if they give me something else I could be even more competitive,” he said, but he wouldn’t bother asking for updates. “Yamaha have a clear policy, a factory team is a factory team, and a satellite team is a satellite team.”

This lack of support, in Crutchlow’s eyes, could have consequences. If Yamaha needed help to fend off the challenges from Marquez and Pedrosa, Crutchlow was not inclined to be supportive. “I have no interest in helping anyone,” Crutchlow said. “Why should I? I’m not contracted to Yamaha.”

Crutchlow had signed to return at Tech 3 for this season on the tacit understanding that he would get more support. That has not been forthcoming, in his opinion, and so the Englishman is likely to leap at the first chance of a factory ride that he gets. With the Yamaha and the Honda seats full, that will have to be elsewhere. Though it is very, very early days, it appears that Crutchlow’s time with Yamaha will not extend much beyond this season.

Testing continues at Jerez on Sunday, and the concerns over the lack of rain tires look set to be unfounded. Right now, some time after 1am on Saturday night local time, the skies are clear and the stars are out. Rain could fall in the morning, but it will be only a smattering, not a full-on downpour. Sunday could finally see some dry track time for the MotoGP men. The times set in the wet today may have been interesting, but they are hardly a reflection of the real standing in the paddock. Tomorrow, we should know more.

Photo: Yamaha Racing

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


  1. “At Jerez, what makes him special was visible on corner exit: it was clear that Marquez was getting on the gas earlier than any of the other riders, standing the bike up early to grab as much drive as possible.”

    I really hope he manages to stay away from costly errors that take himself (and others) out of the race. If he can do that, he’ll very quickly become my favourite rider. In fact, after his two, from-last-to-first races last season in Moto2, he may already be that.

    “But Iannone being so fast – the Pramac Ducati man ended the day in 4th, ahead of both Pirro and Rossi himself, and half a second off the time of Pedrosa – that was something impressive, Rossi said.”

    And this is the other interesting question this season: Will Maniac Joe develop a winning relationship with the Ducati or was his excellent result similar to Rossi’s own good finishes with the Ducati in the wet over the last couple of seasons? Only time will tell, but Iannone is another rider who I really enjoy watching. If he’s a got the bike under him that’ll let him mix it up at the front, he could really dismay championship leaders.