Photos: Valentino Rossi’s Special Misano Helmet, 2014

The San Marino GP is truly Valentino Rossi’s home MotoGP round, and tradition sees him sporting yet another special helmet for the event. This year Aldo Drudi has focused his design on the people close to Rossi’s life, with the helmet also sporting the phrase “Misano ci dà una mano”, meaning “Misano gives you a hand”. A colorful piece, Rossi’s AGV Pista helmet is adorned with the handprints of the mechanics of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. There are also the paw prints of his beloved dogs Cesare and Cecilia, as well as his cat Rossano. You will also notice two sets of lips, from the two women currently in Rossi’s life, his mother Stefania and his girlfriend Linda. The last mark is a thumbprint from Aldo Drudi himself, a long time friend and designer for The Doctor.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Spotted in CARB Filings

We were already tipped off to the Yamaha FJ-09 in Yamaha’s trademark filings with the US government, the bike’s design has also recently been outed in European trademark filings, and now the supposed three-cylinder sport-tourer has been confirmed for 2015 by the California Air Resources Board. Featuring the same displacement as the Yamaha FZ-09, it is a safe bet that Yamaha’s triple goes unchanged for the FJ-09, with the differences between the two bikes likely being mostly aesthetic. The CARB filing also lists two model numbers, which the astute will notice as being two color options for the FJ-09; and not two separate models coming from Yamaha, as other reports have indicated. This is normal from Yamaha North America.

Aprilia Will Return to MotoGP in 2015 with Gresini Racing

It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team. Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory’s team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team’s places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia’s funding will now keep them in the premier class.

Q&A: Mike Leitner – Pedrosa’s Crew Chief Talks Strategy

Leitner talks about how Pedrosa was the first rider to realize that pushing hard from the earliest laps could be a profitable strategy, and how other riders have now followed his lead. He talks about the potential and the dangers of the Bridgestone tires, and how crucial the starts have become in MotoGP. What Leitner does not talk about is the possibility that Pedrosa could decide to look for a new crew chief for 2015 and beyond. It was a question I would have liked to have asked, but I was told that the topic was officially off limits, including tangential questions (such as how Leitner felt the crew chief change had worked out for Valentino Rossi). Despite not being able to ask directly about that question, the interview with Leitner provided a fascinating insight into MotoGP racing.

Mercedes-AMG to Take a Minority Interest in MV Agusta?

News of Mercedes-AMG eyeing an acquisition of MV Agusta have been circulating for some time now, likely as the deal has continued to evolve between the two parties. Now, Italy’s reliable Motociclismo is reporting that AMG has agreed to purchase a minority position, likely around 20% of the company, the announcement of which will be made at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. The deal shouldn’t see too much involvement from Mercedes-AMG in the affairs of MV Agusta, however the stock purchase will certainly put some much need capital in the Italian motorcycle company’s coffers.

2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner – More Than an Update

For the 2015 model year, the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner is getting a massive update from Big Red. As such, the 800cc V4 engine on the Crossrunner sees more horsepower (104.6 peak) and more mid-range torque added, new design aesthetics, longer suspension (+25mm) , and new wheels and brakes also get updates for 2015. Other highlights for the 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner include Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HTSC), ABS brakes, full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, and heated grips, which Honda hopes will help ADV buyers consider the Japanese brand. With these changes, the 2015 Honda Crossrunner pushes further into the adventure side of the touring equation, making the Crossrunner an attractive sport/ADV model from Honda.

Matchless Model X Reloaded – Blending Old with New

Two years ago we spoke of the rebirth of the Matchless motorcycle brand, and today we see the first fruits of that company’s labor. Debuting three renderings that depict a future model, we get to see our first glimpse of the Matchless Model X Reloaded – a motorcycle that blends both the modern technology of today with the iconic lines of the British marque’s past. Borrowing its name from the Matchless Model X, the Model X Reloaded keeps some of the 1920′s motorcycle’s aesthetic, helping connect the brand of the past to the company of the future. Other details are thin, though we do know that the Matchless Model X Reloaded will have an S&S X-Wedge v-twin motor with 1,916cc of displacement.

Honda Is Recalling 126,000 Goldwings

American Honda has filed a recall with NHTSA, which sees the recall of 126,000 Honda Goldwing motorcycles. The recall comes about because the rear brake of the Honda Goldwing may drag after the brakes have been released. With 533+ bikes already experiencing the problem, Honda’s recall affects GL1800 bikes built between 2001 and 2010, and also affects GL1800A bikes built between 2001 and 2005. Since dragging the rear brake could cause a crash, and because the added heat generation could cause a fire (four instances have already occurred), Honda has recalled the Goldwing, though has not determined a remedy at this time for the situation.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process. For now, TrakTape seems to only have a few Ducati models in its arsenal, though it seems logical to see other makes and model hitting their store in the future. At $20/sheet, you might balk at the price, though consider that a roll of good gaffer tape runs close to $30 — so, the four pack at $70 might make more sense for the budget racers. The only thing we’d like to see from TrakTape would be sheets for just headlights, just tail lights, just signals, etc. I can remember taping my bike’s headlight and tail light all the time, but usually removed the signals.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before. We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations. The Triple Cross Over fills the gap left by the upcoming TDM model, and is more of a scrambler than an ADV bike.

Oregon Considers No Helmet Law

02/15/2011 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

Oregon Considers No Helmet Law Captain America Helmet 635x422

I love our neighbors to the north, endless outdoor fun, progressive thinking, and an affinity for things of a more “crunchy” nature. But as a 5th-generation Californian, it is ingrained in my head to fear and mistrust the oppressive dictatorship and hate machine the Oregonians run (the California public school system starts this process in the second grade), as they steal children in the middle of the night and brainwash them into Birkenstock-wearing slave labor and questionable physical hygiene boot camps.

So it comes as some surprise that the Oregon State House of Representatives is introducing a bill to allow motorcycle riders, ages 21 and over, the choice of whether they want to ride with helmets or not (an act that misguided tea party wannabes equate with freedom on the open road).

UK Testing ‘Saferider’ Motorcycle Safety Driving Aids

01/27/2011 @ 9:14 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

UK Testing Saferider Motorcycle Safety Driving Aids Country Road Sunset 635x476

Our former-overlords from across the pond have begun a new study on installing driving aids to motorcycles that would increase the safety of riding on two-wheels. In the research that is being carried out at Mira (formerly the Motor Industry Research Association), the UK is studying whether having devices that alert the rider to speed limits, road conditions, tightness on road bends, and possibly even collisions with other vehicles (not unlike the system currently being developed by BMW & Volkswagen) would benefit motorcyclists like it has car drivers. Currently outfitting a Yamaha Super Ténéré and a Triumph Sprint with the electrical packages, researchers at Mira say the safety system could be available in as early as 18 to 24 months if the studies are successful.

Oregon Enters the Debate – Considers Lane Splitting

11/19/2010 @ 10:37 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Oregon Enters the Debate – Considers Lane Splitting Oregon capitol inside 635x476

As a motorcyclists in California, we honestly don’t understand how the other 49 states get along without having lane splitting laws on the books, yet that is the case (for now at least). Although recently Texas and Arizona declined to adopt such provisions for their own motorcyclists, our cousins to the north in Oregon are contemplating allowing lane splitting.

Holding an open forum at 6:30 PM tonight in Portland, the Oregon Governor’s Advisory Committee for Motorcycle Safety is considering a recommendation for a lane splitting provision be included in the Oregonian Traffic Code, if public sentiment at the open forum favors such a move.

Mick Doohan Tells You to Gear Up

11/19/2010 @ 8:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Famed five-time 500GP Champion Mick Doohan wants to make sure you’re wearing all your gear all the time in this latest motorcycle safety commercial that was put together in South Australia. A part of the Motorcycle Accident Commission’s “Gear Up” campaign, we start off seeing a rider wearing just a shirt, jeans, and sneakers flying through the air after his motorcycle has crashed.

As Doohan points out though, this sort of attire is just about as good as riding naked, which in fact our protagonist is, as he is actually only covered in body paint, not clothing. This sort of shock safety video is a continuation of MAC’s first commercial “No Place to Race”, which can be found after the jump.

AMA Urges NHTSA to Abandon Funding Motorcycle-Only Checkpoint Program

08/18/2010 @ 3:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

AMA Urges NHTSA to Abandon Funding Motorcycle Only Checkpoint Program AMA logo large 635x358

According to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering law enforcement agencies funding incentives to setup checkpoints that target only motorcyclists. Based off a controversial program used by the New York State Police, the NHTSA is offering $350,000 in grants to five law enforcement agencies to run the program, which if successful could be further funded and expanded across the entire United States.

The checkpoints, which derive their legality from DUI checkpoint court rulings, primarily look for motorcyclists riding without a license or DOT approved helmet, and cite riders for aftermarket exhaust and lighting modifications. However the checkpoints fundamentally differ from DUI checkpoints in that they specifically are targeting a minority group of citizens (DUI checkpoints involve all motorists), and are doing so with no presumption that there is an increased risk to motorcyclists and the community as a whole when the checkpoints are being conducted.

BMW & Volkswagen Bring Smart Traffic Systems and Vehicle Interconnection to Motorcycles

07/01/2010 @ 6:09 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

BMW & Volkswagen Bring Smart Traffic Systems and Vehicle Interconnection to Motorcycles BMW Volkswagen ACTIV 3 635x423

Car makers BMW and Volkwagen have been teaming up for the past four years on a study funded by the German government that explores vehicle automation and interlinking. Exploring technologies that share traffic conditions not only with drivers, but also with other cars and city infrastructures, the two auto manufacturers have created systems that would help time lights at intersections, and adjust vehicle velocities in order to improve the flow of traffic and safety. While the study focused primarily on car-based systems, there stemmed a couple interesting pieces of technology that could see their way onto motorcycles in the future.

BMW Recalls 122,000 Motorcycles

05/22/2010 @ 6:53 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

BMW Recalls 122,000 Motorcycles 2009 BMW R1200RTc 560x420

BMW Motorrad has announced that it is recalling over 122,000 motorcycles worldwide for a potentially leaking front brake. The recall seems to only affect K1200GT, R1200R, R1200RT, R1200ST, R1200GS, and R1200GS Adventure motorcycles that were manufactured between August 2006 and May 2009.

Of these bikes, only ~100 units have been found to have the reported brake leak, but BMW isn’t taking chances with the other roughly 121,900 motorcycles that are out on the raod, and is ordering a worldwide recall on the potentially afftected models.

Alpinestars Tech Air Race – A Smart Airbag for Your Collarbone and Neck

04/30/2010 @ 1:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Motorcycle safety technology has clearly entered a new phase of development with airbag systems being pursued by a variety of apparel manufacturers. The latest company to enhance it’s riding suits with the technology is Alpinestars, purveyor of fine jackets, gloves, boots, etc. Alpinestars’ airbag system, dubbed the Tech Air Race, the system easily integrates into what the company calls the Electronic Airbag Protection Suit. The two components combined create a leather racing suit that can calculate in eight milliseconds whether a rider is crashing, and if so, deploy a pair of airbags that protects the rider’s body.

NHTSA Sends Cease and Desist to Helmet Manufacturer

04/29/2010 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

NHTSA Sends Cease and Desist to Helmet Manufacturer advanced carbon composities helmet 560x384

How many recalls does it take before the NHTSA tells you to get out of the motorcycle helmet business? Well if you’re Advanced Carbon Composites, the answer is five – five motorcycle helmet recalls in a row. For a company that warns buyers away from buying inferior products from China and India, Advanced Carbon Composites (ACC) has had a number of problems with its EXT series (all four of them) of motorcycle helmets, including the helmets failing to meet the basic DOT safety guidelines, which finally lead to the ACC ceasing to produce motorcycle helmets at the behest of the NHTSA.

Mandatory Anti-Lock Brakes on Motorcycles?

07/03/2009 @ 11:39 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Mandatory Anti Lock Brakes on Motorcycles? mandatory motorcycle abs 635x476

The NHTSA is considering whether anti-locking braking systems (ABS) should become a mandatory component to new motorcycles on American roads. ABS has certainly become an increasingly prevalent optional feature on street bikes, with sportbikes just recently catching onto the trend.

Honda first released the VFR Interceptor with ABS back in 2002, and both BMW and Honda released bikes with optional ABS this year. We’ve also seen other safety features from cars finding their way into motorcycles, with integrated airbags in leather suits, and bikes offering rear-wheel traction control systems.

To us, this seems like a logical extension of existing technology into motorcycles, but for the NHTSA this is more serious issue of climbing motorcycle crashes, as both more riders take to the streets, and new riders join the motorcycling ranks.