by Thomas Day
Maddison Jumps New Jersey
Stuntman extreme Robbie Maddison had planned to promote a Snake River Canyon jump similar to the stunt Evel Knievel so infamously tanked in 1974. After hitting that mark on his first try in October on a borrowed 250cc Linhai scooter using a 1972 VW van and a 4’ x 12’ plywood launch ramp, Maddison set his sights on something more difficult; New Jersey.
Complicated by the January record blizzard, Maddison hit his mark just east of Jersey City at 770mph and left the ramp just short of escape velocity heading for his landing ramp on the west end of Trenton. The audience was disappointed that Maddison missed his mark, flying over the spectator area and landing eight miles west in rush hour traffic on US-1. However, he successfully split lanes in a perfect landing just east of the South Pennsylvania Avenue exit and looped back to the Red Bull facility before anyone had time to worry about his safety.
Harley CEO A Lot Richer
Harley’s CEO Keith Wandell handed himself a cool $6.4 million for his 2010 performance, which was only a 1% increase from his 8-month 2009 pay package. The Motor Company appears to be recovering nicely from its 2007 bailout years as HD reported a $146.5 million profit for 2010, as opposed to the 2009 $55.1 million loss. Of course, paper write-offs of Buell and MV Agusta are included in the 2010 “profit.” Sorry, this one isn’t an April Fools’ joke.
A Little Triumph?
Mexico’s Motociclismo magazine reported that Triumph is working on a “Street 300,” a liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, 267-350cc sporty standard. The British company will produce this bike in Thailand (similar to the KTM 200 Duke being manufactured in Brazil). It’s possible that the Triumph could see a manufacturing floor by 2012.
Harley’s Politicians Fight Back
Three Republican Wisconsin US Representatives, Jim Sensenbrenner, Tom Petri and Paul Ryan, introduced H.R. 904, a bill that would prohibit the DOT, “from providing grants or any funds to a state, county, town, or township, Indian tribe, municipal or other local government to be used for any program to check helmet usage or create checkpoints for a motorcycle driver or passenger.” NHTSA handed Georgia $70,000 for roadside motorcycle-only checkpoints and New York has a similar state-funded program. The Wisconsin Representatives’ bill would prohibit this practice.
Former WI Representative Injured in Crash
Former Wisconsin Senator Dave Zien is recovering in Tallahassee Memorial Hospital from an encounter with an SUV in Flordia. The 61-year old Harley rider was a sponsor of Wisconsin’s “Rider’s Choice” law, the end of the state’s helmet law. Zien was not wearing a helmet when he crashed into a lane-changing SUV. As of this printing, it was reported that Zien lost his left leg above the knee, fractured his right pelvis and suffered other injuries.
The SUV driver, Ryan G. Matheny of Marietta, Ohio, and his passenger were treated for minor injuries. The AP reported that, “Matheny was charged with failure to stay in his lane and driving with a suspended license.”
Honda Tries Marketing
After years of demonstrating a near-absolute inability to sell clearly superior products to a deprived and wide-open market, Honda Powersports is alleged to be considering hiring marketing people to sell the company’s motorcycles. Apparently, someone in Japan stumbled on a YouTube video of the 1962 Grey Advertising “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” promotion and realized that a competent advertising campaign might be a successful sales tactic. No decision on who might be able to provide the company with marketing skills has been made as of this printing. The Grey Group has said they’d be willing to give it a try, but Honda executives can’t seem to find a phone number for the marketing company’s office.
In a related article, there are reports that Harley Davidson executives are considering adding mechanical and electrical engineers to their corporate staffing.
Minnesota DNR and Dual-Sport Motorcyclists
Mary Straka, the MN DNRs manager for Off-Highway Vehicle programs, has been talking to members of the Twin Cities Dual Sport group about mapping the state’s trails and forest roads along with developing the state’s tourism resources for dual sport motorcyclists. If you are interested in contributing suggestions or assistance, contact Mary Straka, Trails & Waterways Division, 500 Lafayette Road, Box 52, St. Paul, MN 55155-4052, (218) 833-8713 or Toll Free 1-888-MINNDNR.
It’s also worth reminding motorcyclists that the Minnesota DNR’s motorcycle permit only costs $20 for a year of unlimited access to the state’s 72 state parks and recreation areas. The motorcycle permit is a card that fits in your wallet, instead of the $25 sticker for cars. Permits can be purchased at state parks, the DNR License Center, at metro REI locations or by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157. Our state parks are open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
A New American Motorcycle
At the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum and Daytona’s Progressive International Motorcycle Show, the Birmingham, Alabama company, Motus, introduced the MST, a sportbike powered by a direct-injected V-4 engine. The MST models were designed in Alabama and the transmission, chassis and bodywork were engineered and built by Michigan’s Pratt & Miller Engineering. Complete MST machines should be in production by late 2011.
Alberto Granado Makes His Last Diary Entry
The Argentine motorcyclist/physician who travelled with Ché Guevara across Latin America in 1952 and was portrayed in the movie The Motorcycle Diaries, has died in his home in Cuba at 88. In his biography of Guevara, Jon Lee Anderson described Granado as “barely five feet tall and had a huge beaked nose, but he sported a barrel chest and a footballer’s sturdy bowed legs; he also possessed a good sense of humor and a taste for wine, girls, literature and rugby.” Granado had lived in Cuba since 1960, after working in a leprosy clinic in Venezuela when he parted company with Guevara.
Another First from Aerostich
Added to their already overwhelming collection of weird-assed products, Aerostich recently announced the “Gut Wrench Set”: a “six wrench set will satiate even the largest appetites and includes an extra assortment of iron-fortified bolts, great for a quick rest-stop snack to ward off hunger pangs. Price includes a one-time emergency extraction coupon, should you lack the intestinal fortitude for complete digestion (our lawyers made us say that). $34,519.01 per set, specify Metric, Whitworth or American.”
Burgman Fuel-Cell Scooter
Suzuki announced that the Burgman Fuel Cell scooter is the world’s first vehicle to obtain public road approval by the European Union without individual testing. Suzuki and England’s Intelligent Energy have produced a hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle based on the Suzuki Burgman scooter platform.
State Motorcycle Legislation
The Georgia, Kansas and Illinois state Houses are looking at the Minnesota law permitting motorcyclists to escape motorcycle-hostile signals. Maryland and Rhode Island are looking at bills that will require state-owned parking facilities to provide motorcycle parking. The Tennessee, Oregon, Missouri and New York Houses are considering bills that would modify the states’ helmet laws.
The New Mexico House of Representatives passed the “Scooter Law Proposal, HB 11” by a 60-0 vote. The bill defines “motor scooters” as bikes with automatic transmissions, motors between 50cc and 150cc, and that are capable of exceeding 30mph. Under-50cc and under-30mph two-wheelers remain classified as mopeds. Scooters under 3.73 kilowatts are also mopeds. Two-wheeled vehicles powered by 3.73 and 8.95 kilowatt electric motors are classified as motor scooters. Everything above 150cc or 8.95kW are motorcycles. The key term of this legislation allows any licensed driver over age 18 to legally operate a motor scooter with no additional testing or endorsement required.
Reconsidering A Bad Idea
A British study tested the effectiveness, safety and efficiency of an 1860’s invention, the traffic light. This relic of the horse-and-buggy days defies common sense, trains drivers to behave irrationally, and removes so much driver control and responsibility that the lights may be a cause of crashes and injuries. The design of traffic lights, as neuroscientist Susan Greenfield explains, force drivers “to do things that make no sense” and to take actions that are “ineffective in the context of the moment.” More simply put by traffic engineer Hans Monderman, “They are treating people like idiots.” In 2009, London turned off a neighborhood’s traffic lights for six weeks and studied the results. (look up “Roads Unfit for People” on YouTube). “When lights are out, we have noticed that drivers are far more considerate and show more care and attention than they are when they have the reassurance of traffic lights,” said Martin Low, Westminster City Council’s head of transportation.
Other countries have experimented with shutting off control lights and had similar results. In Drachten, Holland, removing traffic lights reduced crashes as much as 90% at intersections. The Dutch report’s conclusion was, “Removing lights removes barriers to traffic flow and improves behavior. If you observe a junction where the lights are out of action, there is rarely congestion. People approach slowly, wave each other on and filter in turn. Lights and other controls hamper instead of harness human nature, causing untold delay and harm.”
An 8-week study in Minnesota in 2000 found that shutting off urban freeway ramp lights lowered freeway “volume” by 9%, increased travel times by 22%, lowered freeway speeds by 7% and increased crashes by 26% (including a 14.6% increase in rear-end crashes). Regardless of those dismal figures, MnDOT significantly revised their ramp meters’ operations dramatically after the study. Some observers are suspicious of the DOT’s reaction, considering their study so overwhelmingly supported the freeway lights. Also, Minnesota drivers are notoriously incapable of merging in moderate traffic and many suspect that is because of drivers’ ignorance on correct ramp meter use.
Starting in A Tough Market
MZ (aka DKW, aka MuZ) was a classic 2-stroke dirt and road bike racing company from Zschopau, Germany. From its origins at the turn of the last century until the company’s death in 2008 bike production in Zschopau has been a big part of European motorcycle history. After the factory closed, part of the plant was converted to a nighclub called “MZWerk.”
A brand-new company, ZP Moto, is looking at producing a “classic scrambler” design. The small-production, privately-owned German company hopes to crank out water-cooled, vintage-looking, single-cylinder bikes starting in 2012. Not much is known about the motorcycle, but the company is hyping a sketch by Paris designer David Negrello Moto as their next product. As of this printing, five ex-MZ employees make-up the whole company.
NHTSA March Motorcycle Recalls
Suzuki is recalling >70,000 2008-2010 motorcycles: The following motorcycles may be equipped with faulty regulator/rectifiers: 2008 GSX-1300B, 2008-2009 GSX-R600, GSX-650F, GSX-R750, DL-1000, GSF-1250, VLR-1800, 2008-2010 VL-800, GSX-1300R, 2009-2010 SFV-650 & VZ-1500. Some regulator/rectifier assemblies were produced with insufficient adhesion between the power module and the rectifier case. Due to insufficient adhesion, heat generated on the power module circuit board can cause the circuit board to deform and lift of the case. This condition causes excessive heat on the circuit board and uncontrolled electric current output, resulting in insufficient charging current and discharge of the battery and engine stalling and/or a no-start condition. The safety recall is expected to begin during March 2011. Owners may contact Suzuki at 1-714-572-1490.