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?

Mugen Will Compete in the 2012 Isle of Man TT Zero

02/16/2012 @ 3:42 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Mugen Will Compete in the 2012 Isle of Man TT Zero Mugen power logo

As of today, famed Honda tuning house Mugen will be tackling a new kind of project: the 2012 TT Zero. Announcing and confirming their entry into the Isle of Man TT’s electric motorcycle race, Mugen will be showcasing not only the company’s lesser-known motorcycle tuning chops, but also its hand at prepping electric vehicles for racing duty. Found in 1973 by Hirotoshi Honda (son to Honda founder Soichiro Honda), Mugen has previously made its name mostly on the automotive side of things, though the company offers a bevy of prepared Honda motorcycles as well.

Said to be campaigning an all-new original electric motorcycle, if we had to take a stab at what Mugen could be bringing to the Isle of Man TT, we doubt we’d have to dive too deep into our imagination. While it may not be quite as big of news as Honda itself racing in the TT Zero, we can expect Mugen to bring a very competent and polished machine to the Isle of Man, and we can also officially begin the speculation between Mugen’s entry and its connection to a certain Japanese motorcycle manufacturer.

For those that don’t follow the nuances of electric motorcycle racing, there exists a double-edged sword for OEMs who may wish to enter events like the TT Zero. While they may have decades of experience building motorcycles and an almost inexhaustible supply of very smart engineers, there is no guarantee that the resources of an established motorcycle manufacturer would solidify a race win at any of the electric motorcycle racing events, and as such a multibillion dollar motorcycle OEM could very well face the possibility of being embarrassed by a team operating on a shoestring’s budget and racing on a home made chassis.

Wanting to be sure that an OEM-backed entry would be more than competitive against entries like those from Lightning Motorcycles, Mission Motors, and MotoCzysz, it would be clever for a company like Honda to test the waters of electric motorcycle racing through say…less-official channels.

For example, Honda could consider using an entirely separate, but cordially related, racing-focused company to campaign Honda’s technology under a different own banner than its own. If that company should fail, well then it would not necessarily be a Honda failure and loss of face, while conversely the company’s success would lay the groundwork for a more official entry down the line.

Or, maybe this is just Mugen being Mugen. As always, only time will tell, but we think the bar just got raised for the competition for this year’s TT Zero.

Source: Isle of Man TT

Comment:

  1. Matt says:

    Bruce Lee – Enter The Dragon…

  2. As predicted, the heavies are coming. Start ups will find it harder and harder to make a good showing as Japanese consumer electronics technology meets Japanese motorcycle technology.

    This is going to become very interesting.

    M

  3. GOluse says:

    My hope and assumption at this point would be that the announcement has come as an afterthought. Meaning, there were plans well in advance to compete with the Electrics. Just a thought.

    Agreed, it should be very interesting indeed.

  4. Julian Bond says:

    Is it too much to hope for McGuiness on the Mugen vs Rutter on the Czysz? One of the hidden catches of TT-Zero is that you have to find a rider who is already racing during TT week and prepared to take on the extra hassle.

  5. Dr. Gellar says:

    This is exciting news! Welcome to the party Mugen… :-)

    @ Julian…I wouldn’t think it is too much to hope for. I read it from somewhere before that last year McGuiness was quite interested in trying out an e-bike on the TT course.

  6. When I talked to McGuinness at the 2011 IOMTT, he was very keen about the electrics. I’ll have to transcribe the interview this weekend I think.

  7. Damo says:

    I personally can’t wait for a long range, fast, silent electric superbike to come our way. I am super sure I am in the minority here, but I can wait to throw a leg over my bike and hear nothing but the wind and scenery blast by. I think we are still a long way off though.

  8. Oh good. Lightning and MotoCzysz could do with a light snack before the race. I vote vaporware.

    @Damo. Well, how fast and how far? Last I heard Lightning will sell you a bike for $40,000 that has 150 mile range, has (way) more power, and weighs about 50lbs less than a ‘busa. The new eCRP Energica has 120hp and is about the size of a 600, although it isn’t for sale yet, but you can reserve one.

    Depending on your definition of a long way, I don’t think electric superbikes are a long way off. The power is there, and you are looking at what 2 years, maybe less for Lightning, for someone like Brammo to offer 150+ hp bikes for the price of GSX-R1000. It’s range, or batteries that are the concern. Depending on how much range you feel you need the wait could be 5-7 years. Is that a long way off? In the mean time, the on-board charger tech should come along and motorcycles can take advantage of the power the charging stations have to offer. The new Empulse coming out will have an on-board charger as powerful as the one in the Leaf (3kw, up from the Enertia’s .8kW).

  9. Joey Wilson says:

    I agree that

    1) the idea of a ‘silent’ motorcycle is very appealing, and . . . .

    2) that same bike with useable range is not here yet.

    I live not far from where Nissan is building (at ‘damn the torpedoes’ speed) the new American plant for Leaf production, as well as a battery plant for same. And I’ll apply this same test I applied to a Leaf when I thought about buying one:

    I live roughly 275 miles from The Barber Motorcycle Museum, on the outskirts of Birmingham. While not the Rockies or the Smokies, it’s a very ‘hilly’ drive from Nashville to Birmingham. At its current state of development, in a Leaf, it would be a THREE DAY DRIVE each way, no matter which way you recharge it (much less where). Any car or bike with a gas engine, this is a four or five hour drive, depending on traffic and lunch.

    Now I’m not ready to surrender the freedom to go anywhere I want, when I want, for what are now urban commuters (and I do mean urban). And if you think the EPA mileage projections are a little off, a lot of these electrical mfg. claims have more blue sky in them than a Montana sunset.

    So until this difference can be resolved, it’s a non-starter for me. I know over time it will be brought in line, one with the other. But then, at that time, how many more power plants will TVA have to build to recharge all these electric vehicles as they replace petroleum-powered vehicles? Will we be smog-shifting from engine exhaust to power plant smokestacks?

  10. Dr. Gellar says:

    Hahaha…gotta love how some folks (no matter what websites you go to) always have to turn the comments section of an e-bike racing article into one about EV viability. Cracks me up…

  11. Joey Wilson says:

    Actually, Dr. G, I’m all for them. But as far as viability, at this point they’re just as not-visble for me as a 200hp sportbike, or an Electra-Glide, they’re just not on my radar at this stage of their development. Am I missing something, or aren’t these still either prototypes, one-off racers, or eked out in small numbers by startups (save for maybe the KTM FreeRide) for big bucks with small ranges, if I wanted to go buy one tomorrow?

    And no, if I can’t get on one tomorrow and ride several hundred miles without worrying about thumbing back home, it’s not viable right now. I am, despite what you may have taken from my comments, looking forward to the day to where the choice of internal combustion or electric is as simple as what color I prefer. But tomorrow, 17 February 2012, is not that day.

    I have no doubt that the technology will surely proceed to ‘that day’ faster than we can imagine. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wonder where the extra electricity will come from.

  12. Damo says:

    @ttxgpfan (@ttxgpfan)

    I am with Joey Wilson on this one. I am really excited about the whole thing. I would also be excited about a hydrogen bike as well, but I might feel like Dr. Strangelove riding the ICBM.

    In all seriousness, when an electric bike that can travel a minimum of 150 miles, has about 150-160HP weighs less than 420 pounds, can catch a full recharge in less than an hour AND only costs about $15,000 makes it to the market I will be first in line. That would be enough for me.

    Currently if I had $40,000 to drop on a bike I would buy the Erik Buell 1190RS.

  13. Richard Gozinya says:

    @Damo

    You know, there’s parts of your criteria that ICE powered superbikes can’t manage. Specifically weight (Not dry weight, but full running order weight) And range. But it seems that what you’re basically asking for is energy density parityl. By the time that comes around, most superbikes will probably cost at least $20k.

    As for Mugen getting involved, it’s great news for electric racing. The more competitors the better.

  14. Damo says:

    @Richard

    I was talking dry weight. Also my 2003 aprilia RSV Mille meets all these criteria (not to mention I only paid $3,400 for it, but that is another story).

    Basically if an electric bike came out with the weight/performance of an 10 year old superbike, at the cost of a present day superbike, I would still take the plunge.

    I actually think that is fairly reasonable on my end.

    I agree though, Mugen getting involved can only be good.

  15. Dman says:

    Considering Mugen has an exceptional reputation of providing very high quality bolt-on parts that do not add any performance enhancements whatsoever, it seems like a perfect fit for them to get into the e-bike realm.

  16. Joey Wilson says:

    Whaddya want to bet that Mugen shows up with something that looks a lot like this:

    http://world.honda.com/design/designers-talk/TMS2011/rc-e/

    . . . . . ya think ? ? ? ?