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.

PPIHC: Chip Yates Races the Most Powerful Motorcycle Ever on Pikes Peak – Sets New Record for Electric Motorcycles

06/27/2011 @ 9:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

PPIHC: Chip Yates Races the Most Powerful Motorcycle Ever on Pikes Peak   Sets New Record for Electric Motorcycles Chip Yates Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 4 635x444

Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com crew were on hand at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this past week, racing the team’s 240+ hp electric motorcycle. An event that highlights the advantages of electrics over internal combustion engines, Pikes Peak saw not only the most powerful motorcycle ever to race its 156 turns, but also saw its electric motorcycle record time fall under Chip’s throttle hand. Blowing the previous record of 16:55.849 set by John Scollon out of the water, Yates posted a respectable under time of 12:50.094, which would put him well above the median of the super-fast Supermoto 450 class, and fourth in the heavyweight 1205cc class.

Pleased with his result, Yates was hindered by the dirt section and nearly 600 lbs motorcycle. Still, the up-beat competitor views the 89th annual hill climb as paying his dues for when Pikes Peak becomes fully-paved for its 90th running in 2012. “I felt bad for the fans that watched me through the dirt section. They saw an electric superbike going 1 mph around the hairpins in the dirt,” admitted Yates to A&R. “After the dirt section though, it’s called Glen Cove, it goes paved again, and there’s some tight twisties were I can kind of hold my own.”

Video: Chip Yates Practices for Pikes Peak

06/14/2011 @ 9:11 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Video: Chip Yates Practices for Pikes Peak Chip Yates Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 635x373

In just a week’s time, Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com Pro Racing crew will be headed out to Pikes Peak to compete in the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC). At 14,110 feet tall, and boasting over 156 turns, Pikes Peak features some of the scariest turns on the planet, no better exemplified than with the “Bottomless Pit” corner which boasts a 3,000 foot sheer drop down the mountain. Yates will of course be racing his 240hp electric motorcycle up the hill climb course, and will have a distinct advantage over his ICE competitors, as the extreme altitude won’t affect the fastest electric pizza delivery bike in the slightest.

We’re really excited here at Asphalt & Rubber for Chip’s participation in the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, not only because we like Chip’s mantra of taking ICE bikes head on with his SWIGZ.com racing machine, but also because we think the PPIHC is the ideal event to showcase how electric motorcycles have actual advantages over internal combustion engines. Starting at roughly 9,400 feet, ICE bikes will be already down on power at the start of the race, and will only continue to lose power as their engines struggle to breath on the 12.5 mile race to the clouds (electric bikes of course aren’t meaningfully affected by the thinning air at altitude).

Caption this Photo: Learning Process

04/21/2011 @ 4:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Caption this Photo: Learning Process chip yates learning process 635x400

Normally in our “Caption this Photo” series we just fire up a provoking picture, drop-in a photo credit, and let you the readers haver your way with it in the comments section; but for today’s photo, I thought our selection deserved a little background story, since not everyone is familiar with what Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com Pro Racing team has been up to this past year.

Having a day of testing in the desert outside of Victorville, California, the SWIGZ crew have been practicing with Larry Kleinschmidt to hone Chip’s dirt-riding skills, as the team is set to compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb later this year. Yates is an accomplished road racer, but his dirt racing experience stems from four-wheeled endeavors, not two — hence the coaching from Kleinschmidt to help tackle the 2.6 miles of dirt road that still remain on the Pikes Peak course.

Chip Yates Hits 190.6 MPH at the Mojave Mile Shootout

04/11/2011 @ 2:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Chip Yates Hits 190.6 MPH at the Mojave Mile Shootout Chip Yates Mojave Mile 1 635x423

Chip Yates and his crew might be SOL for the electric motorcycle racing season, after both the FIM and TTXGP lowered their maximum allowable weights for electric race motorcycle, but that hasn’t stopped the Southern Californian engineer from taking on the gasoline-powered bikes on their own turf. Already showing that his SWIGZ.com Pro Racing Electric Superbike can compete with the WERA racers in the Heavyweight Twins class, Yates was out at the Mojave Mile this weekend seeing what sort of top speeds his electric motorcycle could produce. The answer to that question is quite succinct: 190.6 MPH.

While the team is laying claim to the “Fastest Electric Motorcycle in the World” title, the distinction comes with a couple caveats as the Mojave Mile is a single-run event, meaning there’s no return-run the opposite direction that would meet the requirements for a land speed record (the official LSR for an electric motorcycle is 173.388 MPH). Additionally, previous top speed passes from other electric motorcycle makers have been conducted on salt flats, which typically suck 10% off the top speed compared to those run on asphalt. Still as Yates pointed out to us, the purpose of the entry was to prove his technology and see what bike would do, simply stating “it was a really fun weekend event” in his eyes.

Gas vs. Electric: Chip Yates Takes Podium Finishes in WERA Heavyweight Twins at Fontana [UPDATED]

01/09/2011 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Gas vs. Electric: Chip Yates Takes Podium Finishes in WERA Heavyweight Twins at Fontana [UPDATED] Chip Yates WERA HW Twins AutoClub Speedway 635x423

UPDATE: Race results from both races, video of the first race, and a photo from SWIGZ Racing.

Reports are coming in from Fontana (AutoClub Speedway if you will) this evening, where Chip Yates the SWIGZ Racing team were competing against the gasoline-powered liter bike v-twins in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superbike & Superstock race classes earlier today. Hitting at one point 158mph on the banked walls of Fontana, Yates finished an impressive 2nd place in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superstock class, and had another podium finish (3rd place) in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superbike class, racing against KTM RC8 and Ducati 1198 Superbikes.

Chip Yates’ Electric Motorcycle Will Take On Gas-Powered Competition in WERA Race

12/09/2010 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Chip Yates Electric Motorcycle Will Take On Gas Powered Competition in WERA Race Chip Yates SWIGZ electric race motorcycle 635x622

After first seeing the TTXGP and then FIM e-Power race series lower their maximum bike weights to 250kg, thus barring the 266kg SWIGZ race bike from competing, Chip Yates and his SWIGZ.COM race team seem to be making the best out of a bad situation, and have announced that they will compete in the WERA Pirelli Sportsman Heavyweight Twins Superbike class race being held at California Speedway on January 9, 2011.

Promoting an advanced KERS system, Yates has been touting his 194hp electric race bike as being comparable to gasoline-powered supersport machines, and now he will have the opportunity to prove that point on the track. With performance parity to internal combustion engine such an important issue with electric motorcycles, SWIGZ is the first team to take on the old guard head-on, with this first race being the first public working exhibition of the SWIGZ KERS design.

Chip Yates On SWIGZ.com Pro Racing Electric Superbike Progress

02/09/2010 @ 8:22 pm, by John Adamo7 COMMENTS

Chip Yates On SWIGZ.com Pro Racing Electric Superbike Progress swigz racing electric 635x437

Last week I had a chance to ask Chip Yates some questions over email about the progress of the SWIGZ.COM Pro Racing Electric Superbike program. Chip’s responses tell us his team’s ambitious performance goals are on track and they are quickly signing on sponsors. SWIGS.COM Pro Racing remains the only electric motorcycle race team to put the cards on the table for 2010 in regards to target performance.

In late 2009, Chip announced he had assembled a team including two MIT grads turned aerospace engineers to develop an electric superbike to compete in the TTXGP race series. The press release mentioned some very impressive and somewhat controversial goals for the SWIGZ.COM bike including the ability to turn AMA SuperSport lap times (GSX-R600) and a KERS system to return braking energy back to the battery.

Since the announcement, the electric motorcycle racing landscape has changed dramatically with the entrance of the FIM e-Power series and the TT Zero race replacing TTXGP at the Isle Of Man. Some races have conflicting schedules that will force teams to choose one event or the other. Chip explains what series the team will run and which they will not. Unfortunately the team is not releasing any of the electric drive specs and vendors yet but some details should be announced next month.

See the full Q&A with Chip Yates after the break.