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?

Trackside Tuesday: Chemin Dangereux

09/04/2012 @ 7:02 pm, by Scott Jones8 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Chemin Dangereux Ben Spies Rizla Suzuki Donington Park MotoGP Scott Jones

Going through images of the 2008 British GP at Donington Park, I got to thinking about what a strange road it has been for Ben Spies. It started when Loris Capirossi was injured and Suzuki needed a rider to wild card at the event. Ben was their hot young AMA Superbike champ, and together with Mat Mladin, accounted for years of utter Suzuki dominance in the class.

I spoke briefly to Ben that Thursday as his #11 was displayed to replace Capirossi’s #65 for the first time. As soft-spoken and affable as ever, Ben didn’t seem over-awed by MotoGP, but just got about his job of not crashing Loris’ motorcycle. He would later go on to win the World Superbike title, and was rookie of the year at Tech 3. Again, all with his typical composure.

Since then we have seen his rising star take a sharp turn to port. He has managed to show signs of his potential, such as his win at Assen last year. But this year in particular he has been a frightful reminder that talent, hard work, and a good machine are not quite enough for success as a motorbike racer. As Ben’s bad luck has refused to come to an end, I’m not the only one in the paddock thinking about it. In Ben, the riders have another walking reminder of the uncertainties they face.

MotoGP riders are several things at once. They are human beings like the rest of us, and at the same time they are much, much better at riding motorcycles than most of us will ever be at anything. They face mortal peril every time they mount up to do their job and they manage that risk by cultivating confidence in their equipment and abilities, while intentionally not thinking about what might happen if either fails at the worst time.

When off the bike (which due to testing limits is most of the time), they have many opportunities to consider if what is happening to Ben Spies could happen to them. Short of a career-ending injury, could they become the next talented rider to lose a MotoGP seat for some reason other than merely not being good enough? Are they the next Marco Melandri? John Hopkins? Are they the next Ben Spies?

Given the treacherous career path these riders tread, certain examples of longevity are even more remarkable. Colin Edwards, Loris Capirossi, Nicky Hayden, and others have made long careers of riding at the top-level. Each has reasons for deserving their long runs, but each also avoided what Ben is going through. For a MotoGP rider, to make it to retirement in one piece, and on your own terms, is an accomplishment in itself.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blogTwitter, & Facebook.

All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.

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


  1. TexusTim says:

    Just proves that “riding talent” is only one part of the game in moto gp….. “karma” (lucks older sister) has a lot to do with a riders life and longevity in the moto gp paddock. karma and good luck go hand in hand, you have one you get the other so to speak.
    my guess is that in the latter years of his life Ben will wake up one day (just like casey) and say to themselves ” I gave up what factory moto gp ride making millions that is every racers life’s ambition, I said what about Moto GP as if Im a spoiled kid who didnt get my way so I took my ball and went home to watch tv and play x box?…….so they have CRT’s that are seconds a lap slower…so they want a more competitive race by having a common friggin what the best will still win and as things change the teams will adapt or dorna will revise the rules ……there at the top and guy’s like edwards,hayden and rossi have it fiquerd out……..If your the best shut up and win then you can speak your mind a little……if you not a top finisher shut up and be happy for a ride in moto gp…after all they want a full paddock and not everyone can be an allien.

  2. A.Skipper says:

    You spelled alien wrong. I agree with winning to gain creability. Yet he not only won but finished first in that assen gp. Rossi on the ducati didnt manage that in the same season on his favorite course. So i think its all popularity parlortricks. Rossi is headed back to take spies seat. Its not his fault. He just cant compete verbally against rossi. In the fact that winning to gain a voice regard.

  3. Robert Liddell says:

    “If you’re not a top finisher shut up and be happy for a ride in moto gp.”

    I think it is extremely important to understand that if you are the type of individual who can actually find your way into moto-gp, you are not the type of person to passively accept what ever life throws at you. In fact if someone is near the top of any field, let alone a sport, it is very likely they have a minimalist outlook upon life. They know they’re good at something, therefor that is the reason they were put on this earth. And to be second best at the reason you were put on this earth is not acceptable. And if you realize any circumstances are preventing you from becoming what you know you can be, your reactions will be drastic. Spies may be not be outwardly emotional like some of the more flamboyant racers, but he is obviously very contemplative, and I think he takes great pride in what he does, as well as how he’ll be remembered.

  4. Patron says:

    + 1 Robert. It is not in their DNA to tread water or just float around. They take risks. With outcomes unknown they would rather just keep swimming.

  5. Damo says:

    You spelled ‘credibility’ wrong.

  6. Westward says:

    LoL, why you english spelling nazi’s…

    I think Spies is going to be remember as the first person to win a MotoGP championship on a factory spec Ducati satellite team, and again on the factory team…

    But thats after he proves to be a regular podium attendee and race winner his year on a bike thought to be a fourth place finisher at best…

    Spies wants to win the premiere crown of motorcycle racing, It’s like you guys have said, it’s in their DNA. WSBK, been there done that as a rookie, best debut ever by a pilot in that series. Has nothing more to prove there. Could come back to that series in his late thirties and pull a Bayless, Biaggi, or a Checa, and become the all time champion as he wins another four titles…

  7. A.Skipper says:

    Damnit! Sure did. After i catch a mistake. I make one. Caught up un the rapture. Lol. Credibility.

  8. A.Skipper says:

    Spies wants to ride. Regardless. Best regards to him & yamaha. I think w. Dovisioso headed to fact Ducati. Spies will be alongside the brit in black. I also think thats why he changed his texas star pattern on his lid…