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?

Trackside Tuesday: Do Motorcycles Dream of Electric Sheep?

06/18/2013 @ 1:09 pm, by Richard Mushet14 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Do Motorcycles Dream of Electric Sheep? OSU Rob Barber TT Zero Isle of Man TT Richard Mushet 635x424

Now the dust has settled on another TT, a look back over the numerous pages of lap times and race results can only tell us so much. With so many incredible stories to be told it is difficult to choose one for this article.

From the blatantly obvious, such as; Dunlop’s incredible four wins, McGuinness’ new outright lap record or Ian Lougher rounding out his career on the Mountain course, which spanned four decades, tallying nine wins plus an additional nineteen podiums.

To the equally awe-inspiring, like; David Johnson’s impressive return to the island on privateer machinery, Dave Madsen-Mygdal completing his 100th TT race, and the first ever Chinese competitor at the TT, the likeable Cheung Wai-On.

Above all these, one team’s story caught my eye – the Buckeye Current team from the Ohio State University’s College of Engineering, whose Honda CBR1000RR-based electric motorcycle was tackling the Mountain course.

Consisting of a number of students from various science and engineering programs, the team’s RW-2 bike was the sole American entry from an educational institute and was pitting itself against three other teams from similar institutes and six non-collegiate teams from across the globe.

While in the paddock admiring the Mugen project’s Shinden-Ni race bike early during practice week, I first spoke to Kyle Ginaven, the Buckeye’s technical team lead, who gave me some background details on their project. Needless to say, I was intrigued to see the machine in action and witness exactly what a group of undergraduates were capable of producing.

With Rob Barber, who has been involved in the TT Zero since its inception, riding the RW-2, their final goal was to lap the circuit at an average of 90-100mph by the end of the fortnight. Initially these goals were distinctively more modest; completing a lap was their primary goal.

With a battery management system created from scratch by the team and numerous widely-available parts, such as the cooling fans under the rear sub-unit, the many circuit boards and panels visible once the fairings and “fuel tank” are removed, the RW-2 is a far cry from the megabucks projects of MotoCzysz and Mugen.

At the end of the day, the team has the same drive, passion and end goal as the two aforementioned teams; with their increasing media profiles and vastly higher budgets and resources. This becomes blatantly clear when Rob completes his lap in the Friday practice at an average of 88.1mph, making the project look like a clear challenger for the 4th place spot after the three machines of McGuinness, Miller and Rutter on their Mugen and MotoCzysz rides.

After the high point of their previous lap, technical issues hampered the team’s progress, causing the bike to cut out at numerous points around the circuit, leaving Rob to nurse the bike over the line. This was soon forgotten about after the following (and final) practice session on Monday, two days before the race.

Lapping at an average speed of 91.77mph, the team had reached their target lap time window, despite having further adjustments planned for the race, including a harder rear spring to set a greater ride height and alleviate some clearance issues caused by the camber of certain corners on the course.

Race day arrived too soon for many; another practice lap would have been snatched up by all teams involved if given the chance. The unpredictability of racing may well be it’s one predictable factor and this was proven on race day for the team when Mark Miller’s transmission gave up the ghost after jumping Ballaugh Bridge with a bit too much speed while following John McGuinness.

This left a clear chance for the third step of the podium and a claim of “best of the rest.” With Rob and the RW-2 out on the circuit, this left OSU’s team no doubt taking plenty of deep breaths, bites on nails and head-holding while they followed the race progress over race radio and timing screens.

Despite a handful of motor cut-outs during the race, Rob crossed the line over 35 seconds ahead of the next competitor, taking the third place and still lapping at an average of 90.4mph.

After the race I spoke again to Kyle, who was impressively level-headed about the result, but the buzz from the team was clear to anybody passing by their tent. The team were already thinking of further refinements to the machine once all the data gathered from the TT had been digested and the equipment had been repacked into the crate that they had custom-made for transport to the island.

After this year’s adventure in the middle of the Irish Sea, the possibility of re-packing that crate next year and making the journey to the Isle of Man is very much a reality.

Photos: © 2013 Richard Mushet / Mushet Photo – All Rights Reserved

Richard Mushet is a British photographer who has been known to cover motorcycle racing in it’s many forms. You can view his site here, and follow his Facebook page for more frequent updates over here: MushetPhoto.

Comment:

  1. Matt P says:

    Great story. Thanks! Had no idea they were fielding this!

  2. protomech says:

    Kyle has a build thread here walking through the transition from the F4-based RW1 to the RW2 bike.
    http://www.elmoto.net/showthread.php?2377-Buckeye-Current-Build-Thread

    They had a number of glitches and cutouts during the race, and they were not able to get them fully sorted out before race day. Still.. podium finish hugely impressive for the first TT effort from a student-led team with minimal resources.

  3. Domenick says:

    Nice!

    Thanks for highlighting their effort.

  4. TonyS says:

    Great Blade Runner reference in the title.

  5. alexssss says:

    America : the awesome never stops

  6. paulus - Thailand says:

    Great Effort. Well done to all involved!

  7. Kyle G says:

    Great write up! Pleasure meeting you Richard. Things are looking mighty fine for next years machine. Thanks for the support!

  8. Kyle, you realize that if you ever want to make the pages of A&R again, you’ll need to put a Nittany Lion sticker on the bike, right? Just sayin’

  9. TexusTim says:

    yes electric bikes wave of the future..the perfect platform, the question is when will they have a experimantal class for this at a sanctioned series…ama, wsbk, even motogp…could do a short race just to it get more “out there” with the masses. the day may come when we see this have a big impact in roadracing. just sayin the acceleration of this things is amazing. and not pumping pistons and spinning a crankshaft and so on must make the gyroscopic effects totaly different…..fifteen years practice drones to ride them for testing ?? wow

  10. EvilTwin says:

    Sorry Jensen, but you know the Buckeyes are more awesome ;)

    Kyle, you guys make me even more proud to be a motorcycle riding Buckeye, keep up the good work. O-H!

  11. Westward says:

    @ TonyS

    Rather a Philip K Dick reference, Bladerunner is just what they called the movie.

    @ Beeler

    Enjoyed the write up. Can’t wait to hear about refinements on next years bike.

    Now, please interview that Bay Area teen about her super conductor that charges cell phones in 20 seconds, so we may better understand its future implementation for electric cars and bikes…

    And how soon that might be…

  12. TheSeaward says:

    As much as I love the ICE I’m excited for Americas early push into electric motorcycles. Hopefully we’ll carry the electric flag into the future and be known for something other than cruisers.

  13. Julia says:

    Richard, I’m glad the Buckeye Current team caught your eye! I’m proud of our Motul Award for Technical Performance – that the TT Committee noticed us, too. Kyle and Sean co-founded our team nearly 3 years ago and it’s been an uphill climb to really establish ourselves. I think we’ve arrived!

    @TheSeaward – I couldn’t agree more. I’m happy to have one more year on the team before graduation, but I see so many younger eager faces that WILL continue to carry that electric flag!

  14. arimichael says:

    I-O!