The competitors for the 91st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb have just concluded a two-day tire test at the Colorado road course, and it should perhaps come as no surprise that our boy Carlin Dunne has posted the outright fastest lap for a motorcycle during the tire test (the Santa Barbara native set the outright two-wheeled course record last year on his Ducati Multistrada 1200 S). What is surprising about Carlin’s result at the tire test is that he was on the Lightning Motorcycles electric superbike. That’s right, the fastest bike so far for 2013′s Race to the Clouds is a 200+ hp electric superbike that is refueled with solar energy. Petrol heads, eat your heart out.
Talking to the Indy Star, Mark Miles (CEO of Hulman & Co, the parent company to Indianapolis Motor Speedway) has put some doubt into the historic venue’s commitment to host the MotoGP Championship. Having a contract to run the race through the 2014 season, Miles said that IMS might opt-out of the final year in its agreement with Dorna (IMS apparently has this option for a brief window after the 2013 Indianapolis GP). However while the news has focused so far on IMS’s ability to opt-out, both Dorna and Indianapolis Motor Speedway have options in their contract to go through with the 2014 round, and with a bevy of variables in the air, we may or may not see three American GP rounds next year.
Surprise! America will be getting a 847cc three-cylinder naked bike for the 2014 model year, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. Replacing the Yamaha FZ8 in the Japanese company’s line-up, the FZ-09 is the first motorcycle from the tuning fork brand to sport the Yamaha’s new line of three-cylinder engines. The Yamaha FZ-09 comes about as the MIC is reporting its second-consecutive year of growth in the 751+cc sport bike segment, as well as increase in commuter riding over short-distance sport riding. With those trends in mind, Yamaha has punched out the displacement on its middleweight naked bike, and focused on giving riders a comfortable, yet stout, motorcycle. Priced at $7,990 MSRP, we think Yamaha hit the nail pretty much on the head with this one.
In the past few years I’ve come to believe that, while superior physical differences (their reflexes and fine motor skills) are significant, it’s the mental differences that are the most interesting. I suppose anyone who has ridden a motorcycle even a bit beyond one’s comfort zone can appreciate some part of the physical aspect of riding a racing bike. For most of us, even the speed of racers in local events is impressive compared to our street riding. While the skills with throttle, brakes, and balance are on a level similar to the best athletes in other sports, I think that what really sets motorcycle racers apart is their ability to overcome fear.
The progress in the last five years on electric motorcycles has been astounding. Taking their first laps around the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course, a 87.434 mph pace was the best an electric motorcycle could do at the prestigious road race in 2009 — a pace that was on par with the 50cc record set in 1971. In just five years after the first laps were taken by electric motorcycles at Snaefell, these machines have grown their average lap speeds by over 20 mph at the TT Zero race, setting a new record of 109.675 mph in 2013, and boasting a rate of improvement of roughly 5 mph each year since 2009. If hitting 142.2 mph down the Sulby Straight speed trap wasn’t further proof of the speeds these bikes are achieving, maybe some visual evidence will help support the notion.
Darius Glover is a dirt bike racer. Like you and me, he lives to ride, and when he is on two-wheels he feels the freedom that only other motorcyclists can truly understand. The thing is though, Darius is paralyzed from the waist down. Where others would give up their dreams and this sport, Darius at the age of 15 instead pushed onward. No pity parties, no excuses, just simply a daily example of where there is a will, there is a way, and a reminder that you can achieve anything that you put your mind to. It’s hard not to get a bit choked up listening to Darius tell his story, but you walk away feeling uplifted after feeling his attitude come across the screen.
Any race where 1,500 riders start, 500 qualify, and only 14 finish, has got to be an epic competition, and considering the fact that the Erzberg Rodeo starts in the excavation pit of an Austrian mine…well, it takes a special rider to be enticed by such an event. One such special rider is Graham Jarvis, who was the first of the fourteen men to reach the 20th and final checkpoint. Taking 2 hours and 52 seconds to complete the course, Jarvis made the 2013 Erzberg Rodeo look downright easy. However, with one look at the race-day conditions from this past weekend, we know it was anything but.
While normally, MotoGP fans never get enough of seeing Valentino Rossi on TV, there is one shot they would (for the most part) gladly be spared. As he leaves the pits, Rossi stands on the footpegs, and pulls his leathers from between his buttocks, before sitting back down again and leaving. These rituals – part useful limbering up, part invocation of Lady Luck – are something many riders perform, in their attempt to exert control over themselves, and over their environment. In a fascinating press release – by far the most interesting we have received in many months – the Aspar team today provided a discussion and explanation of what riders are trying to achieve through the use of these rituals.
Hoping to make it four wins in a row, it goes without saying that the MotoCzysz crew is working hard to close the gap to the John McGuinness and the Mugen team. However, having Team Principal Michael Czysz stuck back in the US, undergoing cancer treatments, must certainly add another level of motivation for the on-island MotoCzysz crew. Making time in their busy schedule, Asphalt & Rubber got to take some up-close photos of the 2013 MotoCzysz E1pc. The most obvious changes made to the MotoCzysz E1pc for the 2013 TT Zero race are the use conventional suspension pieces. Of course, it’s not a completely standard suspension setup, as MotoCzysz has developed its own adjustable triple clamp that incorporates tunable lateral flex parameters.
Max Biaggi is to make a surprise return to riding a MotoGP machine. The former 250 and World Superbike champion will take a seat on Ben Spies’ Ignite Pramac Ducati as part of a one-day test at Mugello, as part of Ducati’s testing program, according to Italian site GPOne. Spies was scheduled to stay on at Mugello to take part in a two-day test, but after the first day of practice at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, it was clear to both Spies and Ducati that his shoulder was still too weak to ride a MotoGP machine. With work continuing on the Desmosedici, it was important for Ducati to get as much data as possible on their bike, and so Biaggi was offered the chance to ride the machine.