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?

Thursday Summary at Mugello: Of Mugello, Marquez, & Tires…Once Again

07/12/2012 @ 10:46 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

Thursday Summary at Mugello: Of Mugello, Marquez, & Tires...Once Again mugello motogp italian gp jule cisek 635x423

It’s a good job that we are here in Mugello. Normally, at the end of three back-to-back race weekends, riders, team members and journalists are all just about ready to strangle each other – some paddock insiders have colorful tales of intra-team punch-ups, which they will tell if plied with a few drinks – but this is Mugello, the one weekend each season which everybody looks forward to.

There is something very special about the setting, the track, the weather, the location which mellows everyone out. Maybe it is the spectacularly located Tuscan villas most of the teams stay in for the weekend – there is nothing quite like taking a dip in a private pool as the sun goes down behind the beautiful hills of Tuscany to calm the spirits. But the truth is that everyone seems to wear a smile around the Mugello paddock, no matter what hardship they have suffered in the weeks before the weekend.

It is to be a special weekend, just as every race at Mugello is special. And it will be important too, with several big announcements already made, and more to come. The biggest – and least surprising – was the announcement that Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez will ride for the factory Repsol Honda team for the next two season. Both signings had been long expected, despite some rumors that Valentino Rossi would be moved into the Repsol team in Pedrosa’s place. HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto explained to the press that the decision to sign Pedrosa had been because of the experience of the Spaniard. “A good rider with good experience,” is how Nakamoto described Pedrosa, saying that his signing was good for Honda.

And Honda was not Pedrosa’s only option. He had had other options on the table and been able to decide freely where he wanted to go, Pedrosa told Spanish media, the implication being that he had an offer from Yamaha, though Pedrosa refused to go into details. He had been a Honda rider throughout all of his career, Pedrosa said, and so to continue had been the best option.

The signing of Marquez has generated the most interest, however. The 19-year-old is rated very highly inside the paddock, one Moto2 team manager telling me “Marquez is something really special” after seeing him on a Moto2 bike for the first time at Valencia in 2010. During the press conference, all five riders present – Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi were asked their opinions of the Spaniard, and all were impressed.

Valentino Rossi put his finger on what made Marquez special: “He has demonstrated he has potential,” the Italian said. “He has show he can win races even when he is not the fastest.” Andrea Dovizioso said he was interested to see how Marquez would go: “He’s so fast, so strong,” the Italian said “His style is quite particular, and we will see how he rides a MotoGP bike.

There’s a big difference; in Moto2 you can’t work a lot on the bike, but in MotoGP, you have to do so a lot.” Earlier, Cal Crutchlow had joked that Marquez was “a pain in the arse”, as he had taken one of the factory rides that might otherwise have been open for the Englishman. But he was also one of the fastest guys out there, Crutchlow added. “I think you’ll see him very close to the podium from the very first race,” he said.

The signing of Marquez and Pedrosa provides another major part of the puzzle in MotoGP’s Silly Season for 2013, but some key question marks remain. Mugello was expected to be the place where Cal Crutchlow put pen to paper on a contract with Ducati, but the Englishman is still waiting. The ball, Crutchlow said, is in Ducati’s court, and he is waiting for the Bologna factory to give him a contract to sign. “Everything is discussed,” Crutchlow told reporters. “We have some paperwork to go through, but we don’t have any paperwork at the moment.” While most paddock insiders expected the deal to be done here in Italy, Crutchlow said that he had known since Germany that nothing would be signed at Mugello.

The delay at Ducati opens some intriguing possibilities. Where previously, most paddock insiders had expected Nicky Hayden to lose his ride to make way for Crutchlow – something which apparently Hayden also expected, given his remarks in Germany – the delay could open more opportunities for the American. Hayden was marginally more upbeat about his prospects at Mugello than he had been at both the Sachsenring and Assen, which may have something to do with the talks he had with Audi bosses in Germany.

They did not discuss details, Hayden said, but it had been a positive meeting, and Hayden had come away impressed with Audi’s enthusiasm for the project. Audi, in turn, may be impressed with Hayden’s sales potential in the US, and with Ducati’s sales already up 26% in the second quarter in one of Ducati’s most important markets, having an American rider may become more important for the Italian factory.

Outside of the Silly Season, the other subject which has dominated the 2012 season has been Bridgestone’s tires. Mugello, sadly, is no different. The good news is that Bridgestone has brought four extra rear tires for each rider, all using the hard compound, and all with an extra layer of rubber between the carcass and the tire body. The idea of the extra layer of rubber is to help dissipate heat, so that the dangerous temperature build-up that occurred at Assen, which caused problems for Ben Spies, Valentino Rossi, and Hector Barbera, can be avoided.

It looks like to be precisely the solution needed for the issues that have dogged Bridgestone since the switch to the 1000′s. New machines with larger capacity, more torque, and a softer construction, introduced to put an end to the horrific morning cold-tire highsides which had dogged MotoGP for the past couple of season, had caused Bridgestone more problems than they expected. Several riders, including Andrea Dovizioso, have said that tire temperatures have been at the limit of their operating range, and this is what has caused the problems with tire wear and tire chunking. Boosting heat dissipation should be a bit step towards solving the problem.

But the temporary fix is not without problems of its own. All of the riders were critical of Bridgestone during the press conference, though Casey Stoner, as the only rider not interested in the consequences due to the fact he is retiring at the end of the season, was most outspoken. Stoner was most displeased about the fact that despite having been given an extra tire option, the riders basically only had a single choice of tire for the weekend.

They had been told that they would not be allowed to race the softer of the two original compounds, Stoner said. They would be able to race the harder of the two original compounds, but not without putting in at least half race distance consecutively, at race pace on one of the hard rear tires first. That tire would then be cut open and examined for damage, and if none was found, then the rider would be allowed to select that option as a race tire.

The new construction is the only tire the riders will be allowed to race without having to justify their choice first. “It’s a strange situation,” Stoner said. “It seems like we will only have one choice of tire for the race if the weather is hot. I don’t really understand the situation.”

This is the downside to being the single tire supplier in a series like MotoGP. Unless you get your tires absolutely perfect, you will face a barrage of criticism from riders, teams and fans. The tires were clearly better when the rule was first introduced in 2009. However, the innate conservatism of Japanese factories has led them to play it safe on tire duration, which in turn caused the spate of highsides and serious injuries throughout 2010 and early in 2011.

The reverse is now true, with durability now being the problem, and heat build up causing tires to occasionally lose tread. Bridgestone’s next step should come very close to solving the problem, but the damage has already been done. A role as official supplier in single-manufacturer tire series is a lose-lose proposition: get it right and nobody notices, saying only that of course the World Champion is using your tires, he had no choice in the matter. Get it wrong, and you are spread all over the front pages of the motorcycling media. An unenviable position to be in.

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. Jason says:

    PLEASE let Nicky get a crack at it on a sorted Ducati! He has endured well. He was the only rider to get anywhere near Stoner as his teammate, and consistently outperformed his current superstar teammate and the other Ducati’s. He is hungry, and it seems riding that bike has forced him to learn and push like never before. And he has patiently wated for things to come good at Ducati. It will be heartbreak to see him out when Ducati finally get it right…

  2. Adam says:

    If Parmac and Abrahams teams are unhappy with Ducati and not interested in renewing contracts, then perhaps Audi is willing to fork out the money to keep Hayden on the Duc with full factory support. either in red or other colors… maybe 3 factory bikes next year if the sign Cal as well..

  3. Neil says:

    Nicky should have nothing less than full factory support on a Ducati in the coming years in MotoGp..

  4. smiler says:

    If Ducati do not need to support Pramac and Abrahams and now have the financial backing of Audi.
    They lose the income from those teams buying bikes but do not have to spend time supporting them and can concentrate more on the factory team. Seeing as they have reduced the price for their bikes anyway then perhaps it makes sense. Rossi and Burgess the seasoned riders, Hayden, good for Audi and Ducati in the US, good team player helping Cal and Rossi, whilst seeiinlg ydoing really well himself. Cal the new guy with new ideas and also good for Ducati UK.
    Could be great to see.
    Remains to be seen is MM will actually perform as well as all expect…

  5. Dc4go says:

    Hope Ducati keeps Nicky good hard working rider lots of potential with a sorted bike… Come on NICKY podium this weekend!!!

  6. Hayden’s performance in FP2 was certainly decent.