Ride in Peace, Nicky Hayden

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Nicky Hayden today, the American motorcycle racer finally succumbing to the injuries he sustained on Wednesday, at 7:09 PM CEST. The former-MotoGP Champion was struck by a car, while he was training on his bicycle near the Rimini coast. After the incident, Hayden was ultimately treated at the trauma center at the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he later passed away. While motorcycle fans around the world have been hoping for good news throughout this past weekend, and looking for signs that Nicky’s condition would improve, today Nicky’s race ended, with his family and friends at his side.

Americas Top Öhlins Dealer Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

Daniel Laine Kyle of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California – known best for his speed shop, Kyle Racing – pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government earlier this week, after it was found that Kyle had been hiding cash-based purchases made at this business. Dan Kyle Racing is known best for being the largest Öhlins suspension dealership in the United States (if not the world), as the company offered aggressive pricing on the Swedish-born suspension, and was one of the first Öhlins dealers with an online presence in the early days of the internet. According to the plea agreement made between Kyle and the US Attorney’s Office, Kyle pleaded guilty to tax fraud and structuring currency transactions in order to avoid the reporting requirements in the US Tax Code.

The 2017 Saroléa SP7 Is Ready for the Isle of Man TT

The focus for electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man TT may center around Team Mugen’s dual entry with John McGuinness and Guy Martin, but one should not overlook this very attractive entry from Belgium. Saroléa is back for the 2017 Isle of Man TT, continuing with its state-of-the-art carbon fiber chassis goodness and retro fairing design. On board will once again be Dean Harrison, who will be gunning for a podium-finish on the 2017 Saroléa SP7. If looks alone could get you across the finish line, then Saroléa would have our vote. The Belgians have always been in the running for a strong result though, finishing 4th in 2014 and 5th in 2015. Maybe this year will be “their year” at the TT.

India Is Now the World’s Biggest Motorcycle Market

Did you just feel that? That movement was a tectonic shift in the motorcycle landscape, as India just surpassed China as the world’s largest market for two-wheel vehicles. Just how big is the Indian motorcycle market? Last year, over 17.7 million motorcycles were sold in India. That is over 48,000 motorcycles sold…each day. Compared to China, that is a margin of roughly one million motorcycles per year (16.8 million units sold last year). India has seen a sharp rise in the sales of two-wheelers within its borders over the seven years, growing over 32% during that timeframe. Transportation in general has been growing in India, but that growth has been fueled by the country’s two-wheeler market.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly About Motorcycle Patents

I am really excited about the Suzuki brand right now. Out of the four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the recession affected Suzuki the most, probably more than many people realize, but the Hamamatsu brand is poised to bring out some exciting machines in the coming few years. Could we finally see a turbocharged Suzuki this year though? The rumor mill is pointing to yes…but just pointing, and the reason is because of patents. Much of this internet rumors stems from a flood of patents that have been found, where Suzuki is patenting technology related to turbo-powered engines in motorcycles, or because of other patents that make reference or inference to being part of a turbocharged motorcycle.

No, Royal Enfield Isn’t Buying Ducati

I woke up this morning to a message from a colleague, with a link to a story that linked Royal Enfield to buying Ducati Motor Holding. The story was from a fairly reliable news publication, but the headline read “Royal Enfield Might Consider Buying Ducati Pretty Soon” – the grammarist in me cringed.* “Might consider” is the most nebulous phrase in the English language. Let’s think about that phrase for a moment, as it literally means that you are considering the possibility of considering something. Don’t get me started on the timeliness of “Pretty Soon” in the news realm, as well. Metaphysics and meaningless headlines aside, for our purposes this narrative devolves further in that this story offers nothing new, beyond the story that Reuters published two weeks ago, which set off alarms in the motorcycle industry around the world.

KTM Caught Testing an Electric Street Bike

Spy photos from Austria have caught KTM testing a rather interesting motorcycle – one that does not run on a petroleum-based fuel, but rather it has an electric drivetrain at its core. This isn’t the first time that KTM has experimented with an electric motorcycle, of course, with the KTM Freeride E being available in select markets. However, the machine seen here is a pretty big step forward for the Austrian brand, from its modest electric dirt bike. Using the chassis of a KTM 390 Duke to house the battery, inverter, and motor, KTM’s electric street bike (we’ll call it the KTM E-Duke for now) looks like a rolling mess, but is what you would expect from a project in its early stages of development.

For the Geeks, Your Luke Skywalker HJC Helmet Is Here

I am a solid Star Wars geek, but not in the dress-up and go to a convention sort of way – if you know what I mean. But, this new lid from HJC might have me singing a different tune, as it mimics Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing “Red 5” fighter helmet, in a DOT legal ¾ helmet format. That’s just cool…in a really un-cool sort of way. Based off the budget-friendly HJC IS-5 helmet, this Luke Skywalker replica will cost roughly $180 when it comes out (at a date still to be determined). Additionally, 10 versions of the lid will be signed by Mark Hamill, and auctioned for charity (UNICEF and the Starlight Children’s Foundation), if your geekdom takes you in such a direction (and you have a four-figure wallet).

Hayden: “It’s Clear That There Is A Problem”

Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in its search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team’s struggles will continue. Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend, but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again. Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round, the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.

The Rise and Fall of Danny Kent

“Danny is probably the most talented rider I have ever worked with,” Peter Bom, Danny Kent’s former crew chief at Kiefer told me several times last year. Bom has seen plenty of talent in his time: he also worked with Stefan Bradl at Kiefer, Chris Vermeulen in World Supersport and World Superbikes, Cal Crutchlow in World Supersport. World champions all, and to this tally he added Danny Kent. Less than a year after helping him win the Moto3 world championship, Danny Kent asked the Kiefer team for a new crew chief, abandoning his collaboration with Peter Bom. Kent felt that Bom had been slow to pick up on the changes in the Moto2 class during Bom’s three years in Moto3. Stefan Kiefer obliged, and Kent started the season with a new crew chief and a Suter Moto2 chassis.

WSBK: Race 1 at Nürburgring a Fight for the Championship Rekindled

09/06/2009 @ 8:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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With the long summer break, everyone in World Superbike was waiting to see what would happen to the Championship Standings while at Germany. With two races on each race day, Ben Spies would have two chances to chip away at Noriyuki Haga’s 7 point lead, and finally take control of the series. With Haga still on the mend, the Nürburgring seemed like it would be hostile ground for the Xerox Ducati rider, but any thoughts of Haga being a push-over were quickly dispelled by his lightning Superpole performance.

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WSBK: Strong Superpole Results in Germany Show the Season Ain’t Over Yet

09/05/2009 @ 5:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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World Superbike action returns from its summer hiatus, and comes to you this weekend from the Nürburgring in Germany. With Ben Spies only 7 points behind the injured Noriyuki Haga, it appeared the American would take the Championship lead this weekend with little effort, as Haga would not be able to push himself to compete with the Texan. Nitro Nori would appear to have some gas still in his reserves, and has proven thus far that he won’t give up his lead without a fight.

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Spies to Yamaha, WSBK for 2010, MotoGP for 2011

09/04/2009 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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It’s official, Yamaha announced today that Ben Spies will remain in World Superbike with the Yamaha factory team for the 2010 season. However in 2011, Spies will move up to MotoGP series, where he’ll join a Yamaha satellite team (likely Tech3 Yamaha).

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WSBK: Something to Prove in Race 2 at Brno

07/26/2009 @ 8:07 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Something to Prove in Race 2 at Brno

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Continuing on our Eastern European tour, Race 2 had a number of riders with something to prove on two wheels. With teams on a more level playing field after the recent test at the Brno venue, Race 2 proved to be an opportunity for the diamonds in the rough to shine, and for old rivals to get some payback.

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WSBK: Race 1 at Brno – The Crash That Could Cost the Championship

07/26/2009 @ 7:32 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 1 at Brno – The Crash That Could Cost the Championship

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Brno has a variety of meanings to different people. To the Old Czech, the words means muddy, to the Slavs it means to fortify, to men aged 16-55 it means rail thin supermodels, but to motorcycle race fanatics, the city should take on the meaning of unpredictable racing action. You’ll have to continue after the jump to see why Race 1 proves this theory.

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WSBK: Superpole from Brno, with Love

07/25/2009 @ 4:30 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Superpole from Brno, with Love

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World Superbike action this weekend comes from Brno, where riders are hot off a recent testing session at the former Soviet Block track. The Superpole results clearly speak to who did their homework, with fresh faces entering into the upper ranks. This Sunday should be set to have some good production motorcycle racing, and hey…if we’re wrong about that, there’s still eastern European umbrella girls, and that always makes people happy.

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Aprilia Focusing on WSBK for 2010

07/14/2009 @ 8:54 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If you have any hopes of seeing Aprilia in the upcoming Moto2 series, you may have to be get over them if early reports are to be believed. While official word is expected later this August, it would appear that Aprilia will not develop a custom chassis and compete in the Moto2 series, which is scheduled to replace the 250GP next year.

Jorge “Aspar” Martinez had been linked to the team earlier as possibly being on board with the Italian company to continue his involvement in the middle-tier GP series. This rumor now seems to be denied, as there has been no movement in the Aprilia camp towards developing a chassis around the Honda CBR 600cc powerplant the new series is slated to use.

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WSBK: Race 2 at Donington Park Ends with a Nearly Fractured Vertebrae

06/28/2009 @ 6:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If the close racing of Race 1 wasn’t enough drama for the fans at Donington Park, Race 2 provided it in full. Another breakaway start, and a couple key crashes, lead to a shake up in the finishing results, and one rider was rushed off to the hospital for a suspected fractured vertabrae that might change the course of the season. Continue reading for spoilers.

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WSBK: Race 1 at Donington Park Decided by Fuel

06/28/2009 @ 5:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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World Superbike came to Donington Park this weekend, and in Race 1 three riders broke away from the pack at blistering speed. With only two riders capable of pushing further, it looked like the race victory would be decided on the very last lap. Coming into the last few corners, a fuel issue upset what could have been a great finish. Continue reading for the spoilers.

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WSBK: Superpole Come Back at Donington Park

06/28/2009 @ 1:46 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Don’t call it a come back, but Ben Spies resumes his Superpole dominance with his 8th Superpole victory out of 9 races so far this season. Showing himself to be a master of timing, Spies finished his final run right before a light rain began to fall on the track, which prevented the other riders from answer back on his time.

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