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?

Saturday Summary at Austin: Of Maiden Poles & Riding a Punishing Track

04/21/2013 @ 9:04 am, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Austin: Of Maiden Poles & Riding a Punishing Track Saturday COTA MotoGP Scott Jones 02 635x422

One record down, one to go. By qualifying on pole in just his second MotoGP race, at the age of 20 years and 61 days, Marc Marquez becomes the youngest premier-class pole-sitter in history, deposing the legendary Freddie Spencer of the crown he has held for 31 years.

On Sunday, Marc Marquez will go after the next target: the record as the youngest winner of a premier class Grand Prix, also held by Spencer. If he fails to win on Sunday – a very distinct possibility – he still has until Indianapolis to take Spencer’s record, making it very far from safe.

Marquez’s pole was the crowning glory of an utterly impressive weekend so far. The Repsol Honda youngster has dominated most of practice, leading his teammate by a quarter of a second or more in every session but one. He was immediately fast, but his race rhythm is just as impressive.

In FP3, as grip on the track improved, Marquez cranked out 2’04s and 2’05s like they were going out of style. He was consistent, too. Not quite Jorge Lorenzo consistent, but he was running a pace that would have let him build up a lead, with only Dani Pedrosa able to stay close.

Marquez continues on the meteoric path blazed by the fastest riders in the world who went before. Casey Stoner always said about that truly exceptional riders are up to speed almost immediately, and this is exactly what Marquez has done. On the podium in his first race, on pole for his second, and a strong favorite for the win, this is the mark of a true “Alien”, to use a much-denigrated, but still useful phrase. His first MotoGP victory can’t be far away.

The young Spaniard also learned a valuable lesson on Saturday morning: push too hard, too early on Bridgestone tires, and you will find that they bite you. On his very first out lap in FP3, Marquez saved the front, only to have the rear slide and then bite, flinging him up into the air. He took a fair battering, landing heavily on his back, but still walking away.

This, too, is MotoGP: pushing too hard on tires which are not quite up to temperature and you will find yourself with an aerial view of the environs of the track. Marquez had been seeking the limit, he said. He found it perhaps a little earlier than he had hoped.

Though Marquez’ prowess is beyond reproach, he still needed a modicum of luck to retain pole. Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa was on a fast flying lap when he ran into Ben Spies, doing his best to get out of the way but coming up short. In one sector Pedrosa, the Spanish veteran lost all of the ground he had made on Marquez, and more, forced to settle for second place.

There is no dishonor in that, nor will it materially affect his shot at a podium. Pedrosa is quick, not quite as consistent as Marquez, but with a faster overall pace.

“This race will be closer than you think,” warned Cal Crutchlow, suggesting that Pedrosa can run with Marquez, and that Jorge Lorenzo may even be closer than many believe. Lorenzo himself is sanguine, understanding that a win in Texas is simply not possible, and determined to salvage as many points as he can.

Given his metronomic consistency, a podium looks almost automatic, but then again, to quote Nicky Hayden’s apt and oft-quoted line, “that’s why we all line up on Sunday. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Where does Honda’s advantage come from? Naturally, the extra drive out of the point-and-shoot corners, which are a feature of the tricorne layout at the Circuit of the Americas is a big part, but Crutchlow pointed out that the Hondas are also really strong in braking at the circuit, traditionally one of the Yamaha M1′s strongest points.

“I can’t believe how well they stop,” Crutchlow commented after qualifying. When you’re fastest both into and out of a corner, then you are going to be pretty hard to beat.

Crutchlow himself was playing down his chances, saying his goal remained the top six. Yet the Tech 3 Yamaha man once again impressed, taking 4th spot in qualifying ahead of both Stefan Bradl and Valentino Rossi, who tested at the track just a month ago. Crutchlow has had to learn the track on the first day, and now sits less than two tenths behind Lorenzo, and over a tenth ahead of Stefan Bradl.

The biggest challenge is going to be maintaining the kind of punishing pace necessarily for 21 laps. The track is so complicated that it is hard to keep the necessary intensity for that kind of duration.

The first sector, with a sequence of nine corners all leading into each other before the hairpin at Turn 11, and a moment to catch your breath on the long back straight, is going to be toughest of all. Stringing five or six perfect laps together will be tough enough. Hammering out 21 in a row is nearly impossible.

This may give the struggling Valentino Rossi a chance to catch up, but the Italian faces a much tougher challenge here than he did in Qatar. There, he was competitive in free practice, but made a mistake in qualifying. At Austin, Rossi will start from the position he has been in more or less throughout practice.

The Italian is struggling with the front end, and they have not yet been able to find a solution to his problem. They naturally have some ideas for warm up on Sunday morning, but Rossi regards a win as completely out of the question, and a podium as only a remote possibility.

Marquez’s pole was not the only first at Austin. In Moto2, Scott Redding got his first ever Grand Prix pole, in either 125s or Moto2, after a sterling lap. The young Englishman is brimming with confidence, the pole exactly the boost he had needed.

He has been second so often, he said after qualifying, that it was hard to believe he was finally at the front. Winning will not be so easy, however, as Takaaki Nakagami and Nico Terol are also fast. Pol Espargaro is further down the grid, but you have to count on the championship leader once the lights go out.

And in Moto3, Alex Rins stamped his authority on qualifying. Rins has impressed throughout testing, but at Austin, he has taken charge of the class, and is looking almost unbeatable. Nearly half a second quicker than Qatar victor Luis Salom, and seven tenths ahead of Maverick Viñales, Rins is coming into his own.

He was highly tipped when he came into Moto3, and after a year of adapting, he is firmly in the groove. This is a young man with a very bright future indeed.

Photo: © 2013 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. Marc Marquez just prove that he can not only run with the big boys, but beat them on equal terms on a track that nobody knows better than anyone else, a high-speed (212 mph) high technical difficulty track, to boot.

    “I know I’ve said some bad things about the boy, but he’s certainly redeemed himself now.” (Slapshot) :-)

    Youngest winner in Moto GP history, wins this race primarily with his superior technique, that Outrigger, knees and elbows planted on the ground, style allows him to take enough weight and pressure off the tire to keep the bike significantly more upright through the turns, which translates to harder acceleration out of those turns, and better exit speed. I predict that this style will become the new standard in short order, maybe we’ll see riders putting wheels on their knees and elbows before long. LOL

    Congratulations to Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda team, fantastic job.

  2. L2C says:

    You may be right. It seemed to me that Pedrosa and Bradl were already mimicking Márquez’s style on certain areas of the track. Will be interesting to see if more riders latch on to that in the coming months.

  3. Neil says:

    Kinda what Spies did in WSBK as far as seeing new tracks and taking pole…..and the title (???)
    Watching Marquez in Moto2 when he was there was a treat, maybe a bit aggressive at times but he has shown some serious poise so far in Motogp. Having the best bike on the grid helps too, lol
    Honda knew what they had in this kid, that’s why they got the rookie rule abolished.
    The future of Motogp for sure, MM

  4. Norm G. says:

    re: “wins this race primarily with his superior technique, that Outrigger, knees and elbows planted on the ground, style allows him to take enough weight and pressure off the tire to keep the bike significantly more upright through the turns”

    looks good on paper.

  5. Norm G. says:

    re: “I predict that this style will become the new standard in short order”

    i predict a run on lowsides.