The End Of MotoGP Heroes?

For those of you who have been following the MotoGP racing this season, you know what I am talking about. The world elite motorcycle racing category, the MotoGP, sees world’s most gifted motorcycle racers duke it out on circuits on every continent of the globe (well, apart from Africa). And for the first three quarters of the season it was nail biting.

The 2015 MotoGP racers (c) MotoGP

The 2015 MotoGP racers (c) MotoGP

Incredible racing, faster and faster, masterful overtaking and advances in motorcycle technology that could only be dreamed of. And that by some 24 very talented racers. But of the 24, 4 stood out by a great length; 3 Spaniards and 1 Italian. These were quickly dubbed the “Aliens”.

And these 4 have been dominating the sport of a few years, particularly the 9 times world champion and very charismatic Italian; Valentino Rossi. To be 9 times the world champion does say one thing; he knows how to race.

But the other three aren’t slouches; Rossi’s team mate at Yamaha is Jorge Lorenzo, an incredibly talented racers who is currently the fastest man on the fastest bike. But with an attitude and temper to match. On the Honda side are Marc Marquez, the upcoming King of MotoGP, a man who has already proven himself to be incredibly fast but with a bad season behind him. His team mate, Dani Pedrosa, has been very unlucky with several crashes, and has only in the last few races shown that he deserves a spot at the very top.

So far, so good. In all the races leading up to the championship, that is, all but the last 3 races, the battles upfront were epic and heart-stopping. Even people who weren’t into MotoGP racing, or even motorcycle racing in general, had to stop and watch the incredible suspense these 45 minutes of intense racing would bring.

Rossi vs Marquez (c) MotoGP

Rossi vs Marquez (c) MotoGP

But it’s in the last 3 races that things went downhill. And it went downhill in a head-basket. Without going into details, it became a daytime soap opera drama. Where there used to be a lot of respect between the racers, now there was mud slinging, insults and finally physical violence on the track.

The two title contents, Rossi and Lorenzo (remember, they are team mates), were at a few points over each other. And when the other team riders interfered with the race, tempers flared. And when you are riding at 350 kph, you’d better keep your temper in check. But unfortunately, the riders didn’t.

So in the last race of the season, one rider, Rossi, was penalized and sent to the back of the grid, while his team mate and direct competitor Lorenzo was at the very front. An impossible position to be in, but given Rossi’s talent, he managed to crawl back to 4th position but was short 2 positions so he had to forfeit the title.

But the annoying thing were the attitudes of the racers. Where once they were “Supermen”, with talent, good humor & fun, men to be idolized, now the Rossi vs Marquez battle showed that these are mere humans, victims to their own ego and desires. And Lorenzo has the perfect opportunity to stay silent and take the high road, but didn’t, instead jumped up & down, turned blue and almost went off to the corner to sulk. Teenager stuff, not grown men.

The only one of the four that marked his adulthood was Pedrosa who tried to say the right thing and calm everyone down, but it was too far gone (though Pedrosa in former years did have some meltdown episodes of his own with Lorenzo, so much so that the King of Spain had to intervene). But at least he kept out of the fray, which was a good thing.

So now we have a newly crowned world champ, Jorge Lorenzo, who arguably is one of the best racers, but with a title that will always be put into question, as will future titles. Now, when someone wins, you’ll be asking yourself whether they got the win by themselves, or if they were helped by other racers. What was at play: Talent? Politics? Ego? Financial? Pride? If it’s only talent, that’s great, but all the other issues should be left at their motorhomes.

And the idols are no longer idolized; they are just very talented human beings with several faults; just like normal human beings..

And in all the drama, one man who deserved much more attention was the American Nicky Hayden who raced his last MotoGP race. What a pity he didn’t get the media attention he deserved, but everyone was turned to the free-for-all fight up front and forgot about the other racers.

For me, the fun is out of this kind of high level, high stakes, motorcycle racing. I think I’ll go looking for a less drama sport; maybe chess or checker world championships.

Things are shaking up in the electric motorcycle industry. Still very young as a sub-industry, the electric motorcycle is slowly but surely changing the way we see them.

Mission Motorcycles

Mission Motorcycles

On the negative side, names like Mission Motorcycles have disappeared from the playing field. Mission are blaming Apple for poaching their engineers, but I guess when you fail, you need to blame someone. But despite having a good looking and high performing sports motorcycle, it could not bring it to the market and they went bankrupt.

Another manufacturer that no longer exists as such, is Brammo. Long heralded for its innovative designs and performance, Brammo has been taken over by Polaris. Although they are still supporting the dealers and the purchased motorcycles, the Brammo engineers will be working more on the other Polaris products, like maybe electric snowmobiles?

Long standing Vectrix has been in and out of bankruptcy and finally closed last year. Despite a promising start, they slowly wilted way.

All these upstarts failing will put a dent in the confidence of potential buyers. Why spend a small fortune to buy a high-tech electric motorcycle to see the company bite the dust and lose all spare parts and support? Is it worth it to be the first?


But one company that is a start-up has managed to weather all the storms, and they are not only doing very well, they recently released new motorcycles. And that company is California based Zero Motorcycles.

Zero released at the AIMExpo in Florida last week new motorcycles and updated ones. Faster (98 to 102 mph, depending on the model), longer (192 miles) and blistering fast accelerations (0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds for the SR model).

Zero FXS

Zero FXS

Their latest model, the FXS is a city hooligan bike with its 44 hp, 70 ft-lbs torque and a top speed of 82 mph. But the most important detail for this motorcycle is that the battery packs are swappable and removable. This means that for bikers living in the city and parking their motorcycles in the street or in areas where there is no electricity, they can now purchase a great city bike and charge their batteries at home.

Zero can be considered the Tesla of motorcycles. Alone against the industrial giants of the traditional industry, they are carving their own niche and they are doing it successfully.

Mainstream Manufacturers

So far there is one mainstream motorcycle manufacturer that is doing very well in the electric motorcycle department; and that is the German BMW with its electric C-Evolution scooter. Their manufacturing stock got sold out in Europe within the year, and even municipal police forces in Europe are using the scooter for their city cops. Stuffed with technology, the scooter is a real city and commuting scooter.

BMW C-Evolution electric scooter

BMW C-Evolution electric scooter

And the reason it’s so popular despite a stiff price? Because of the name BMW! You know the company is not going to fold, so when you buy their bike, it will be maintained for as long as you ride.

KTM also released electric motorcycles last years, but so far no sales reports have been released, but we’d expect they are selling fine. Again, KTM is a name that inspires confidence in their future.

The big Japanese manufacturers are now also looking at developing electric motorcycles and scooters. Honda showed last month their electric SuperCub concept, and Yamaha have been playing with several electric concepts.


So the dust is starting the settle in the electric motorcycle market. Some of the initial players have been removed from the board, while some of the big players have joined the game. But one thing is sure, electric motorcycles are here to stay.

Over the next few years, the battery technology is going to drop in price and increase in range. Performance is already on-par with other vehicles, even exceeding them.

Sena, known for its outstanding wireless communication devices for motorcycle helmets, have released during the latest AIMExpo in Florida a new type of helmet that could herald the future of helmets. A helmet that many bikers have been waiting for.

SENA noise-cancelling integral helmet

SENA noise-cancelling integral helmet

Sena released their first integral helmet, a carbon fibre one, but that wasn’t really the big news; they released the first noise-cancelling motorcycle helmet!

Noise-cancelling is a technology that has been around for a while, and it consists of two loudspeakers, usually in a headphone or earplugs, with one or more integrated microphone(s) that “listen” to the outside ambient noise. When there’s a particular steady noise, like the rumble of an engine, wind, traffic, etc, the built-in processor produces a contrasting noise, thereby cancelling the source noise. My wife uses one to cancel my snoring ;-)

You can buy noise-cancelling headphone and earplugs in many electronic shops, and many seasoned travelers in airplanes, underground, trams, buses and cars use them when on the go.

On a motorcycle, your ears are bombarded with loud noises all the time. Not only your engine, but also the wind rushing over your helmet. These noises can, depending on the quality of your helmet, reach very high, even dangerous levels. 100 dB is not unheard off, and even 130 has been measured.

SENA noise-cancelling integral helmet technology

SENA noise-cancelling integral helmet technology

Not only does this mean your hearing will be degraded permanently overtime, but you will also tire quicker during your motorcycle trip, meaning you’ll lose your concentration. It is the main reason many bikers ride with earplugs. Earplugs work fine, they prevent you from hearing these external noises, but they do come with one big negative side effect: it also diminishes important sounds like horns, sirens, squealing brakes & tires.

The new Sena helmet and its associated technology takes care of this. The repeating sounds like your engine (to a degree, since you’ll still need to hear your engine revving up before changing gear) or the wind are filtered out, while sudden noises like a blaring horn or a firetruck’s siren are not.

The helmet is not always on. You need to power-on the noise-cancelling feature yourself, so you can decide at any given moment whether you want it on or not.


Obviously, since Sena make wireless (Bluetooth) communication devices, this helmet can accommodate their latest Bluetooth 4.1 module. This means that not only will the helmet stop outside ambient noises, but you can also listen to music, talk to your pillion or riding buddies or even, heaven forbid, talk on the phone in a quite environment.

The new helmet, including the optional communication module, will weigh in at 3.5 lb (1.6 kgs). No price is known yet, but the helmet will hit your shop Spring 2016. There’s also a strong rumor that we’ll shortly see a flip-up version.

I know what I have on my birthday wish list. Have a look at the introduction video below.

When Is A Motorcycle A Car?

Sounds like a TV show riddle, doesn’t it? Cars and motorcycles are two distinctly different vehicles; cars have 4 wheels and motorcycles 2 (or three, but then it’s a sidecar). So why should a motorcycle be a car?

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

The answer is when the manufacturer is a motorcycle manufacturer and it uses a motorcycle engine, and it feels like a powerful sportsbike. Honda Motorcycle (not Honda cars) have released their concept Project 2&4. As stated, it’s a concept, so don’t rush to your local Honda dealer to buy one. They are just testing the waters.

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

But the beast, for nothing else describes it better, is powered by Honda RC213V engine, the same engine that propelled Marc Marquez to the world championship MotoGP last year. In other words, an enormously powerful engine, bolted onto a very light and flexible chassis.

The 1 liter engine develops 212 brake horsepower, and the whole motorcycle car motocar (for a lack of another word) weighs 893 pounds. The red zone starts at 13,000 RPM but at 10,000 you already have 118 Nm worth of torque. The center of gravity is very low, helped by a seat which “floats” (in other words, it’s not fixed, but moves with the motocar).

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

And yes, there is room for a passenger. That is, if the passenger is willing to sit in that contraption and hold on for dear life.

But is this the first motorcycle car? No, far from it. One the recent success stories comes from Austria, and it’s made by the Big Orange company, KTM. KTM have a successful X-Bow car (Crossbow), which is street-legal, but often found racing in Europe in its own category. But to be honest, it’s not a motorcycle engine that is used, but an Audi 2 liter engine, but it is a motorcycle company that is making it. Click here to read more about the KTM X-Bow.

KTM X-Bow (Crossbow)

KTM X-Bow (Crossbow)

Honda’s Japanese competitor, Suzuki, also released a concept motocar a few years ago (2001), using their successful high performance Hayabusa engine. Called the Suzuki GSX-R/4, the 181 mph capable vehicle never materialized as a production model.

Suzuki GSX-R4-RA

Suzuki GSX-R4-RA

Other manufactures have been designing cars with motorcycle engines, so it’s nothing new. In fact, back in the “old” days, it was quite common. Remember the post WWII BMW 600? Seen photos of it, right? It’s uses BMW 600 cc flat twin of BMW’s R67 motorcycle.

BMW 600

BMW 600

But let’s face it, the Honda 2&4 looks amazing and probably gives you sensations as rich as riding a powerful motorcycle down Laguna Seca. But would you buy one if you could go to your local Honda dealer? Well, maybe for a test ride…

Of all the skills used when riding your motorcycle, emergency braking is the most important. You can take curves at lower speeds, you can park a motorcycle anyway you want, you can even split lanes while riding carefully – all items you need to learn, but that requires a lesser skill level than emergency braking. If your cornering skills requires improvement, all you do is take a corner with less speed.

Emergency-objectBut when you suddenly need to hit the brakes hard, for whatever the reason, you need skills and experience. In other words, a skill you will need to practice regularly to gain and retain the muscle memories. So practice, practice and more practice. Go to some remote parking lot, place a visual mark on the lot, and pretend that it’s a object you are riding towards and you need to brake hard. Start slow and build up speed after each attempt. This way your reflexes will be automatic when you are faced with such a situation.


So here are a few tips for emergency braking:

  1. Don’t grab the handle and pull with all your strength. That is the “normal” reaction of an untrained biker. If some car driver suddenly opens a car door in your path, your normal reaction is to pull the brake lever as hard and as fast as you can. Big mistake, even if your motorcycle is equipped with ABS. Pull hard, but not fully, and then continue pulling harder progressively. If you pull hard all the way, your tires will lock up and you will no longer be in control of your bike.
  2. Use both brakes, front and rear. The front should be used at about 80%, the rear at 20%. But both are important. If you use the front more, the rear will lift and be useless. If you use the rear too much, you will stop far less faster.
  3. Squealing tires mean you are braking too hard. This means you have lost control. Loosen up a tad.
  4. Weight distribution. The weight, in fact your weight, is going to be distributed since the bike is going to lower in the front and your body will want to get off the bike at the front. To counter the front ejection, keep your arms straight and locked.
  5. If you can, and this is where ABS comes in very handy, try to avoid the object. Counter-steer as hard as you can. You can do this while still hitting the brakes.


Practice, practice and practice until you got it perfect and then practice some more. And remember to do it often enough.

It doesn’t matter how long you have been riding, and on what kind of terrain, you will eventually end up riding your motorcycle towards a sudden obstacle. Riding on a blacktop, minding your own business, and suddenly there’s an object in front of you. A shredded truck tire, wooden plank, roadkill, a refrigerator. Okay, forget about encountering a fridge; if that happens, you are the roadkill.


But when you suddenly encounter a (small) object, you need to be prepared. Your automatic reaction will be to serve around it. But that can be a dangerous maneuver, since you will not have had the time to see what’s driving up next to you. Also, your reactions might not dictate that you serve; many bikers will roll right into the object – it’s called fixation.

Another reaction would be to hit the brakes hard. On its own, this could work, but you’ll need to check your rear; if there’s an 18-wheeler close behind you, it will never be able to stop in the distance you stop, so you’ll be toast. But if there’s nothing behind you, and you have the time to stop; great. But if not, here are a few pointers:

  1. Line up as much as you can to hit the object straight on. If you hit it at an angle, you’ll most certainly crash. If you encounter an object while in a curve, straighten your bike.
  2. Hold on firmly to the handlebar. Use all your fingers to grip the handlebar. If you, like many bikers, ride with 2 or 3 fingers covering the brake lever, your fingers during the impact might just action the brakes, which at that stage is bad news.
  3. Depending on your motorcycle type, just before hitting the object, lower your center of gravity by standing on your foot pegs. Obviously if your bike is one with pegs way at the front or rear, it will be more problematic.
  4. Don’t stand fully on your pegs, but raise yourself enough to have your knees bent so they can absorb much of the impact energy.
  5. Just before hitting the object, open the throttle. You don’t need to go full throttle, but enough to accelerate. By doing this, weight will transfer to the rear wheel, and your front wheel will lift (even if it’s very slightly).
  6. Shift your weight to the front when you cross the object with your front wheel. This will make it easier for your rear wheel to go over the object.

If you went over a hard object, and you had a real bump, better pull over and check your bike for damages. But wait until the motorcycle is back in a straight line, stabilized.

It sounds like a lot, but it’s quite a natural process. Repeat the steps in your mind, and if possible try the process a few times on a quite road or parking lot. You don’t need to ride over a shredded tire, you can image something lying there when you see a crack or a line on the road.

Practice makes perfect.

Sturgis Main Street (c) Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Sturgis Main Street (c) Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

The famous and world’s biggest motorcycle event, Sturgis, is celebrating 75 years. The iconic event is not 75 years old, but 75 years young, since younger and younger bikers attend the rally and subsequent parties.

3rd, even 4th generations of bikers have attended, or will be attending the gathering. Grand parent, parents, children and even grand children have been here, so we’ll maybe see 5th generation bikers attend the 75 year celebrations.

Officially the events start on July 30th, ending on the 15th of August, but already on the 28th you ‘ll find activities at the Buffalo Chip and the following day will see many parties at the main saloons and bars. The rally starts on the 3rd of August, ending on the 9th.

Because the magic number “75”, a vast number of bikers and fans are expected this year, with many campings and hotels already showing the “full” sign. But with a little bit of luck, you might find a space to squeeze into.

Needless to say, a ton of music groups will be playing all over Sturgis, too many to list here. Click here to see all events in Sturgis, listed by date. Of course Buffalo Chip have their own thing going, with some rock legends like Alice Cooper and Nazareth playing. Click here to see their schedules.

Remember, if you are riding to Sturgis, pack your motorcycle smartly, and for sure, ride safely. Better arrive a bit late, then never. Below you’ll find a few links to articles we’ve written about riding safely.

Enjoy if you are attending.


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