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The link between helmet laws and motorcyclists fatalities may seem intuitive and obvious, but now because of a study published in the American Journal of Surgery we have scientific proof that helmets save lives. The study focuses around Michigan, which repealed its mandatory helmet law (thanks to help from the AMA) in April 2012, and has since had three riding seasons with a greatly reduce helmet-wearing requirement. Postulating that legislatures made a mistake in that repeal, the basic conclusions from the study are that the state has seen an increase in injury severity for motorcycles, a higher in-patient mortality for motorcyclists, and worse neurological damage for motorcyclists. While those are all painful logical results, the numbers paint an even more grim picture.

Hero MotoCorp Ltd (HMCL) has filed paperwork with the Bombay Stock Exchange stating that its wholly-owned subsidiary, HMCL Americas, has entered into a settlement agreement with Erik Buell Racing, which sees the American arm of the Indian brand acquire “certain consulting project” from EBR for $2.8 million. The filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange reads: “”As part of the settlement agreement, HMCL Americas Inc has agreed to acquire the ownership of certain tangible and intangible assets of EBR Entities, free and clear of all encumbrances, for a consideration of USD 2.8 million.” The move is not surprising, since the projects and research in question are unfinished consulting work Erik Buell Racing was doing for Hero MotoCorp as a client.

The University of California Berkeley has finished its study of lane-splitting in California, and the results are encouraging for lane-splitting proponents.Researchers, led by Dr. Thomas Rice of the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC), reviewed nearly 6,000 motorcycle-involved traffic collisions between June 2012 and August 2013, including 997 in which the riders were splitting lanes at the time of the crash. The big takeaway from this research is that when done reasonably, lane-splitting is just as safe as riding a motorcycle. As such, one of the more important insights found by Rice and his team was that motorcyclists can travel up to 15 mph faster than the flow of traffic with no statistical increase in crashing.

Continued reports suggest that BMW is getting closer and closer to releasing a small-displacement motorcycle single-cylinder motorcycle (codenamed the K03), which is being co-developed with Indian brand TVS. The machine is expected to be in the 250cc to 300cc range, be engineered by BMW Motorrad in Germany, but built by TVS in India. Pictures of the test mule have been on the internet (see above), but the final design is said to be similar to the TVS Draken concept that we saw this time last year. Loyal A&R readers will remember that BMW partnered with TVS in early 2013, in a collaboration that saw no investments or joint-ventures produced, thus making their business a pure co-development deal.

The topic of lane-splitting is heating up in California, after the California Highway Patrol (CHP) posted guidelines for the legal practice to its website, and then was forced to remove them after a formal complaint that the posted recommendations constituted the CHP making legal regulations. Now finishing a year-long study regarding the safety of motorcycles splitting lanes in The Golden State, the CHP has found that lane-splitting is no more dangerous than riding a motorcycle in general, provided a rider doesn’t exceed the flow of traffic by more than 10 mph.

Months ago, while bouldering with my friend Erica, I asked her if she ever wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle; she did a little shoulder dance, scrunched her face and exclaimed: “@#$& yeah, I’ve always wanted to dress up in leathers and be a badass chick on a bike.”

I laughed at the time, thinking her sentiments sounded more performative than substantive, but a recently released report on research conducted by Kelton and commissioned by Harley-Davidson suggests that motorcycling could indeed be a critical lifestyle palliative (or amphetamine?) for women.

Boring statistics first: women now make up 12% of the riding population in the United States — up 30% over the previous decade.

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America has 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. Conducted by the University of Bath and Bath Spa University in England, the researchers performed a very intuitive test where they placed a mannequin’s head in a wind tunnel, turned on the wind, and recorded the sound volume and frequency at various points in and around the helmet. The conclusion was that at even normal legal riding speeds, deafening levels of sound were reaching the eardrum, primarily due to the chin bar on the helmet.

Making a new motorcycle is a tricky business. Despite the image that motorcyclists are these rebels without a cause and offshoots from the so-called mainstream of society, the truth of the matter is that as a whole, motorcyclists are just about the most resistant group to change as you can find. When a manufacturer wants to release a new motorcycle, it has to take into account that if it strays too far away from what has been previously proscribed, the motorcycling community is likely going to hate it (or at least say it hates it).

This is why manufacturers now make bikes by committee, consult with focus groups/experts, and tease concepts (or spy shots of actual bikes). These processes give motorcycle manufacturers valuable feedback into how their product will be received in the marketplace, and this concept extends to markets outside of motorcycling. If I was a new manufacturer, and I was about to launch a whole new motorcycle, I’d be very careful on how I introduced the bike to the painfully orthodox members of the Church of Motorcycling.

The Canucks are getting into the hybrid scene, as news from up north reveals that BRP, with help from the Canadian government, will develop a hybrid model of its Can-Am Spyder three-wheeler. Working alongside the Université de Sherbrooke, BRP is investing $5.1 million CAD ($5 million USD) into the school’s Centre de Technologies Avancees (CTA), while the Canadian government’s Automotive Partnership Canada program is matching funds to the tune of $6.2 million CAD ($6.1 million USD).

BRP and the researchers at Université de Sherbrooke will be building a ground-up hybrid system, since apparently the systems currently available for cars have proven to be inadequate for the confines of motorcycles and trikes. We guess they missed the product releases from MotoCzsyz (D1g1tal Dr1ve D1) and Mission Motors (MissionEVT), both of whom have developed their drive trains from electric motorcycles. More info after the jump, along with an obnoxiously French-Canadian video.

Aprilia is either confident or cocky, because according to MCN, the Italian manufacturer’s racing department has halted development on the 2010 World Superbike spec RSV4 Factory race bike. Comfortable with Max Biaggi’s 58 point lead over Leon Haslam and his Alstare Suzuki, Aprilia wants Biaggi to focus on racing with his current setup, rather than risk having a prototype part breaking, and costing the team and Biaggi the World Superbike Championship.

rossi-mugello-motogp

J.D. Power and Associates has completed its 2009 Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study, and the results are in. In their research, J.D. Power & Associates measures the overall satisfaction of motorcyclists with their new helmet in three key factors:

  • ventilation 
  • face shield
  • design and styling

These three factors are then marked into 11 attributes:

  • quietness
  • ventilation/air flow
  • de-fogging
  • the face shield’s ability to keep the wind out 
  • the face shield’s ability to resist scratching 
  • ease of replacing the face shield 
  • scratch resistance of the shell
  • color/graphic design
  • weight
  • ease of fastening the strap
  • fit and comfort.

Continue reading after the jump for the results.