Ian Hutchinson may not be a household name here in the United States, but over on the Isle of Man, “Hutchy” is a pretty big deal. Winning five solo-class races in the 2010 season, the English rider’s hot-streak was cut short after a tragic closed circuit racing accident, which saw him sidelined for the 2011 TT fortnight.

Suffering another leg injury going into the 2012 racing season, Hutchinson was still physically not 100% as he headed to the TT, with the Swan Racing Team making obvious adjustments to his Yamaha YZF-R1 to accommodate Hutchy’s injured leg.

While Hutchinson would ride through the pain, he was noticeably off the pace during this last TT meeting.

While a large component of those results are surely products of his physical state, where were compound by the fact that his practice and racing schedule has been truncated, many also wondered about Hutchinson’s mental state as well.

Twice beaten, once shy, one Swan team member explained to me that when you looked into the his eyes as he got on board the bike, there was something there that didn’t exist before in Hutchy’s eyes. “Fear?” I asked. The team member wouldn’t comment further.

Getting up close with the Swan Yamaha R1, we can see the obvious changes that have been made to the road-going motorcycle to make it a true superbike.

The 200+ rear-wheel horsepower is of course tamed with Yamaha’s new traction control system, and all the standard racing bits apply to the team’s massaged thoroughbred: Brembo brakes, Akrapovic exhaust, Marchesini wheels, etc.

What is most striking though, is the absence of any left-side foot controls. Compensating for Hutchy’s injured leg, the team has transferred the Swan Yamaha R1’s shifter to the right-hand side of the bike via a clever rod system, thus replacing and eliminating the rear-wheel foot brake.

Don’t worry though, Hutchy still has dual-wheel braking control (as required by the ACU), in the form of a thumb brake that is located on the left-hand side handlebar. Also on that bar is the bike’s quick-shifter, pit lane rev-limiter, and fuel/throttle map toggles.

Beaten like its rider, the white-plated #6 bike has seen its fair share of action. Tackling a seagull at 150+ mph, the Swan crew showed off the broken windshield from the incident with a bit of pride. Hutchy may have lost a step this fortnight, but he won the battle with the wildlife.

Unfortunately, the bird passed away shortly after being rescued and delivered to the Isle’s animal conservatory. Looking at the pitted and broken front fairings, there are obvious impacts to the front of the motorcycle.

I inquired if these were further proof of Hutchy’s battle with the seagull, but the team commented that those fairings had already been replaced with the current set, and that this pits were from rocks on the course.

Pebbles and rocks were the big complaint from the TT riders this year, as stones were constantly being picked up on the course, and flung aft of the riders — sometimes into fellow competitors.

For those doing the math at home, that’s one motorcycle doing 150+ mph in one direction, and one stone doing 150+ mph in the opposite direction, with the two objects colliding in the process (note: that does not equal at 300 mph impact).

Carbon fiber is a resilient material, but it is apparently not as resilient as its rider. Best of luck to you next season, Hutchy.

Photos: © 2012 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

  • SBPilot

    Somethings in life are so unexplainable and can be summed up with Hutchy’s experience. To be at one moment seemingly on top of the world, invincible, confidence through the roof, achieving the impossible by winning 5 TT races in one year, then shortly afterwards shattering his leg that will forever effect his riding and confidence.

    None the less, class rider he is and hope the best for him. Great photos. Would have been interesting to see that look he had climbing on the bike.

  • noch

    great photos. don’t know why but i love the look of that swan bike

  • BBQdog

    Nice gear switch side change !

  • Ax1464

    A bike traveling at 150mph does not throw debris backwards.

  • frogy6

    The sticky tires flick stones behind them at high speed, and you are going high speed towards them

  • Ax1464

    Behind them, yes, in the same direction the bike is moving — but not back up the track in the opposite direction.

  • Damo

    Ax1464 is 100% correct.

  • Gutterslob

    It’s was a horrific injury he had. His leg was in some weird cage, and one can only imagine the excruciating pain he must have been in for months. The boy’s strong as the carbon he rides, both mentally and physically.

    His bike was the best souding in the top10 this year by a long way. Love that crossplane-crank Yamaha sound.

  • Wheels are circles, and can throw stones in any direction in 360*, including in the reverse direction… although maybe not at “150mph.”

    We’re all physics experts now… lets get back to the racing talk…

  • “Wheels are circles, and can throw stones in any direction in 360*, including in the reverse direction”

    The available torque to propel a stone reward is directly related to how much wheelspin is being generated at the time the tire passes over the stone. In a best case, the stone is mostly being flicked upward and into the path of an oncoming bike. In a worst case, wheelspin has not only picked up the stone, but also flicked it out at relatively high speed in the direction of rotation of the spinning tire.

    Sounds like physics to me. :)