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May 2016

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Riding a motorcycle in California is pure bliss. Motorcyclists benefit from the state’s perpetual sunshine, its gold-kissed coasts, and of course lane-splitting for two-wheelers. Lane-splitting in California, from a legal stand-point, is sort of awkward though. There is no law that grants motorcyclists the privilege of lane-splitting, but that doesn’t really matter when it comes to the California Vehicle Code (CVC), since there is also no provision that prohibits it. I wouldn’t say lane-splitting in California is legal only by a technicality, but the Golden State would benefit from some more formalized words on the practice. That might change this year though, as Assembly Bill 51 is getting an update. This is both good and bad news.

If you follow the four-wheeled world at all, you will know that there has been a massive recall for vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. The recall affects roughly 34 million vehicles in the United States, at last count, though more seem to be added each week, my own four-wheeler included.

The size of the recall is due mostly to the fact that Takata makes the majority of vehicle airbag systems, and their design is fairly universal. In fact, it’s so universal that Takata even powers the airbags found on the Honda Gold Wing, which brings us to this story.

For the same reason that millions of cars are being recalled, American Honda is recalling 2,701 Honda Gold Wing motorcycles that were equipped with an airbag feature.

Donington Park has become the personal playground of 2013 World Superbike champion Tom Sykes.

The Yorkshire rider has now claimed an incredible eight wins in a row at his home circuit, and after Sunday’s races Sykes explained how much it meant and also what it means going forward.

In this debrief, Tom Syke’s crew chief, Marcel Duinker, offers his insight into whether Sykes has an advantage at Donington Park due to his riding style.

Also of note this weekend was the addition of new riders to the WorldSBK grid, as for the majority of last year PJ Jacobsen was the sole American riding in the WorldSBK paddock, but last weekend the numbers swelled to three, with Cameron Beaubier joining the Superbike Circus.

The MotoAmerica champion aquitted himself well and we will assess what it means for MotoAmerica, having him race against some of the world’s finest.

If you believe the rumors coming out of Italy, Polaris is poised to save acquire ailing motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta. We have documented MV Agusta’s precarious financial troubles already in great detail, and how MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni is between a rock and a hard place with his main investor, Mercedes-AMG. According to the Italian media, and those who repeat their words like parrots, Polaris represents an escape from MV Agusta’s difficult position with the German automobile-maker, though the reality is that nothing could be farther from the truth.

Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you. That was the case for Chaz Davies at Donington Park today, as the Ducati rider found his Panigale R race bike going up in flames during FP2.

An unknown mechanical issue forced Davies to pull off the track, and not long after getting his bike to a stop did flames started erupting out of his Ducati Panigale R.

The bike was a total loss, and the whole ordeal cost Davies a valuable time during the practice session, but at least Davies didn’t have to abandon ship at full-speed – like Colin Edwards did on the Aprilia RS Cube.

Episode 27 of the Paddock Pass Podcast sees Steve English and Neil Morrison catching up mostly on the MotoGP happenings at the Italian GP in Mugello.

Wrapping up what has been an eventful week with the riders’ contracts for the 2017 season, the show then focuses on the racing action in Italy, with mentions about the Moto2 and Mot3 races, which were equally enjoyable to watch.

The guys also give some attention to the World Superbike paddock, talking about the series’ recent racing in Sepang, and looking ahead on the calendar for WSBK at Donington Park.

With the Isle of Man TT starting this weekend as well, there is plenty of racing action to fuel the Paddock Pass Podcast, so keep your ears tuned for more shows.

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When opportunity comes knocking, it is a fool who does not open the door. Given the chance to shine on the world stage, you have to take that shot. So when Cameron Beaubier was asked to replace the injured Sylvain Guintoli inside the Pata Yamaha team for the Donington round of World Superbikes, I cannot imagine that he hesitated for very long before jumping at the chance. As commendable as Beaubier’s choice is, it comes with some considerable risk. Not just to the reputation of Beaubier himself, but also to the standing of American motorcycle racing in the world. The reasons for this lie in the historical strength of US racing, and the important role it has had in the history of both the MotoGP and World Superbike championships.

The Erzbergrodeo is billed as motorcycling’s toughest single-day event, and it certainly lives up to the hype. Last year, only five competitors crossed the finish line, after the event organizers decided to “toughen up” the already grueling day of racing by adding the new “downtown” section.

With its iconic start out of the bottom of a open-pit iron mine, those riders that can make it up the mine’s walls are then a barraged by a numbers of hard enduro sections – it is easy to see why the hare scramble styled event is so popular with fans and competitors.

The 2016 edition of the Erzbergrodeo is this weekend (the main event is Sunday), and it is anyone’s guess as to who, and how many, of its competitors will even finish the race, let alone win it.

To get us pumped up for this weekend, event sponsor Red Bull has put together a video that tells the history of the off-road race. Enjoy it, after the jump.

What you see here is the first purpose-built Harley-Davidson race bike to come from the Milwaukee for quite some time, as its been several decades since the Bar & Shield brand formally offered flat track racing machines – 44 years, to be precise. Called the Harley-Davidson XG750R, the flat track racing machine is based off the Harley-Davidson Street 750 platform, and it will make its racing debut this weekend at the AMA Pro Flat Track Springfield Mile in Illinois. As the name suggests, the Harley-Davidson XG750R features the same 750cc v-twin engine that is found in the Harley-Davidson Street 750 street bike, though it has been tuned for racing duty.