Perhaps none of the MotoGP riders have been affected by the loss of Marco Simoncelli more so than Valentino Rossi. Not only was Rossi “like a brother to Marco,” but the Italian was deeply shaken over his involvement with Marco’s accident at Sepang. With both Edwards and Rossi putting on a strong face publicly, the rest of us can only imagine the thoughts and grief that most be occurring internally. Everyone processes their grief differently, and one of Rossi’s more cathartic endeavors this weekend is to honor Marco with a special helmet for the Valencian GP. More photos after the jump.
I ride bikes for a living, in case you didn’t know this already. I ride more miles on two wheels in a year, than the average American does in their automobile (I put more four-wheel miles down a year than the average American does as well, if that gives you any idea how much of Asphalt & Rubber is written while on the road). With all this riding, I’ve become increasingly concerned over my hearing, as I’d like still to have it when I’m older. Thus for my own personal benefit, I’ve been trying out the different kinds of ear protection that are available to motorcyclists, as well as a variety of helmets from manufacturers (articles surely to ensue).
So when the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America published a study titled “Aeroacoustic Sources of Motorcycle Helmet Noise” in which the various frequencies and decibel levels of helmet-generated noise were measured and tested, I became very interested in the study’s findings. Bear in mind I’m a staunch believer in helmet laws and riding with a full-face helmet (my apologies to the Libertarians in the group), so when the study suggested that my two main concerns regarding my head may be at odds with each other, it piqued my interest.
Some tragic news with a twist comes to us from the long holiday weekend, as we get word that a helmetless rider from Onondaga, NY died after crashing his 1983 Harley Davidson motorcycle during a protest rally.
Though it’s always unfortunate when we lose a member of the motorcycle community, this story has a bit of irony as we learn that Philip A. Contos was participating in a motorcycle helmet protest when the 55-year-old flipped over the handlebars of his motorcycle, and hit his head against the pavement.
According to the attending physician, and based off the evidence and information at the scene of the accident, Contos would have survived the fall had he been wearing a DOT approved helmet, but instead sadly perished from his injuries.
Despite Valentino Rossi getting the Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1 for the Italian GP at Mugello, the nine-time World Champion is still struggling with a 12th place qualifying position. Despite his troubles, Rossi is keeping true to his tradition of wearing a special AGV helmet at his home GP round. Featuring a giant eyeball on the top of the lid (Rossi’s bulldogs are featured on the back of the helmet), we can only imagine Rossi is paying with the fact that all eyes are on him this year as he tackles the new challenges that surround his move to Ducati Corse.
So far Rossi and Jeremy Burgess haven’t been able to tame the beast, and at Mugello, the famous crew chief is absent, having to attend to personal obligations back home in Australia this weekend. With QP cut-short by inclement weather, Rossi and Ducati had only a handful of laps to work on setting up the GP11.1 for Mugello, which could prove to be a hurdle come Sunday morning. Whatever the reasons are for Rossi’s design choice, he will be one to watch tomorrow to see if he can overcome the hurdles that are set out before him. More photos after the jump.
J.D. Power and Associates have released their 2011 Helmet Satisfaction Study, and the results are pretty interesting. The study takes an 11-point approach on helmet satisfaction, having helmet purchasers rank their lid on the following attributes: quietness; ventilation/air flow; de-fogging performance; face shield effectiveness of keeping wind out; face shield resistance to scratching; ease of replacing face shield; scratch resistance of shell; color/graphic design; weight; ease of fastening the strap; and fit and comfort.
Perhaps unsurprising to many, Arai topped the list as having the highest rating (this makes the 13th year in a row for the Japanese helmet manufacturer), but this year will carry an asterisk, as Icon tied Arai in customer satisfaction with a score of 852 out of 1,000. According to JDPA, Arai’s scores across all 11 attributes were strong, with a particular strength in “fit & comfort” and “face shield effectiveness of keeping wind out”. Similarly, Icon scored especially well in “color/graphic design”, while Shoei got strong marks for “ease of replacing the face shield”.
Part of the interest of the first race of the MotoGP season relates to the class photos, where the riders come out first for the 125cc group shot, then Moto2, and last the MotoGP riders appear. The 125 riders are mainly kids, so there is a lot of joking around in high voices that haven’t dropped yet. Moto2 is a mix of young and not as young, but it’s still a large field so the phrase “herding cats” is likely to be uttered a few times as the Dorna folks try to get everyone into position for the photograph.
The MotoGP riders are much fewer in number, but the group makes up for its smaller size with proportionally larger egos, and the premier class’ mind games are already well under way when it comes to which individuals will appear to sit down first, and wait for those who chose not to wait for anyone else.
Twice now Michigan has come close to repealing its helmet law for motorcycles, with both instances being vetoed by Democrat Gov. Jennifer Granholm. But now with Gov. Granholm no longer in office, and with Republicans also having control over the legislature, the stars have seemingly aligned for the state’s riders to make another bid on nixing the law.
I should preface that there are two separate proposals being lobbied in Michigan. First there is House Bill 2008, submitted by Rep. Richard LeBlanc, and the Michigan State Senate has its own bill to contend with, Senate Bill 291, which is co-sponsored by five Democrat and twelve Republican State Senators. The bill in the Senate is your typical approach to helmet laws, and holds that anyone who is over 21, and has either passed a motorcycle safety course, or had a motorcycle endorsement for two years, can ride a motorcycle without a helmet.
If you’ve seen some of the photos from the Losail International Circuit, you’ll see that Nicky Hayden has been going out in some of the sessions with a piece of plastic affixed to his helmet. As the MotoGP paddock gets ready for the Qatar GP, the wind has been a factor here in Doha, fueled by the Arabian Gulf which is only two miles away from us and the desert the surrounds the area.
Originally we thought that Arai was perhaps experimenting with some sort of new aerodynamic package here in Qatar, but Carlos Checa ran a similar setup during the World Superbike races at Phillip Island with X-lite helmet. Talking to Arai Helmets about the odd clear piece of plastic, they disclosed that it’s something that Ducati has been experimenting with on its race package.
We’ve had more than a few Bell Helmets rolling around the A&R office these past months, and one of the things we’ve really liked from this American-based company is how it has teamed up with notable designers from inside and outside of the motorcycle industry to bring attractive and fresh looks to consumers. While it’s been the Bell Star and Vortex that have been keeping our brains firmly in-between our ears, it’s the designs by Roland Sands and Jona Cerwinske that have been attracting us to Bell, and propelling the company back into the motorcycle helmet market as a whole.
Taking some time to talk to Roland Sands at his new Southern California shop, Bell Helmets has put together this short video with the former motorcycle racer turned designer. While Bell and RSD are obviously out to hock the new gold-leaf-over-carbon fiber “Speed Freak” helmet they’ve created for 2011, Roland has some interesting stories about his process and growing up around motorcycles…the photography is spectacular too boot.
With Bell in the process of restoring its name after having its motorcycle helmet division operated overseas by another company, we expect to see more videos in the future like the one after the jump that engage riders with this once-defunct American brand.
At Misano this morning, Valentino Rossi debuted another of his famous helmet designs for his home crowd. Adorned with a painted clock on the top of helmet, Rossi will use a different helmet for each session during the San Marino GP. The time on the clock is set to five minutes before the session’s start, and labeled with “wake up and get going,” which for Rossi is both a literal and figurative reminder.
Critical of his results lately, Rossi is acknowledging that he needs to start turning around his season at Misano, and once again ride at the front of the pack. Hopefully these helmets (last year Rossi was the donkey) will be a reminder to the Italian rider, who has struggled since returning from a compound fracture to his leg.