Victory and Project 156
This is a rumor, and we mean just an unconfirmed rumor, that a production version of the Victory Project 156 bike is still in the works. For those not familiar, Project 156 was the bike built to take on the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb last year. There were high expectations for the bike, but after a crash and then a later electronics failure the ultimately DNF’d. If you attended the motorcycle show this winter Victory had the Project 156 bike on display. Powered by a 1200cc liquid cooled v-twin, there were earlier rumors that the Victory was building a naked sport bike based directly on the 156. The recently announced Victory Octane was rumored to be that bike, a straight up naked sport bike as opposed to a power-cruiser (or what we at MMM call a Bruiser®) that it turned out to be.
These unconfirmed rumors are partially based on Victory’s return to Pike’s Peak this year with two entries. Another gasoline powered Project 156 piloted by former Pike’s Peak Open Class winner, Jermey Toye, and a prototype electric version piloted by Cycle World Editor Don Canet. British cycling newspaper MCN reports an inside source at Polaris claims there is the intention to build a bike of similar performance and form as the race version of the 156. We will be interested to see what develops.
The Clean Air Act and Racing
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a pending rule, which would extend the reach of the Clean Air Act to include vehicles used for racing competition. In a filing in the Federal Register last summer the EPA wrote with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they would “prohibit conversion of vehicles originally designed for on-road use into race cars” and “make the sale of certain products for use on such vehicles illegal.” This would effectively make modifying a vehicle for competition use or selling parts, such as exhaust systems designed for closed course use, illegal. As you might expect this has ignited a firestorm of outrage among racing organizations, racers from all sports, and aftermarket parts suppliers.
As reported by Jalopnik the EPA claims that the Clean Air Act has been misinterpreted for years. Their claim hinges on the specific definition of non-road vehicles. The Clean Air Act lists non-road as agricultural machines and industrial equipment. The EPA’s contention is the vehicle emissions (cars, motorcycle, etc.) are still regulated by the Clean Air Act and there is no specific exemption for competition vehicles. It appears their primary focus is going after companies producing aftermarket parts that don’t meet emissions standards, but there is also legal room to pursue individuals who modify their vehicles.
The EPA published this proposed rule in an incredibly long document (600+ pages) and buried it in unrelated rules related to heavy trucks. The final rule could be issued as early as this summer and doesn’t require congressional approval.
There is currently is pending legislation to prevent the EPA from issuing the rule. The bi-partisan Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016 (H.R. 4715 and S. 2659, RPM Act) would ensure that converting motor vehicles into competition-only vehicles remains legal. Street motorcycles are considered motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act.
More EPA News
Last December the EPA released the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume requirements for 2016, increasing it to 18.11 billion gallons from 16.93 billion gallons in 2015. Functionally what this means in fuel suppliers will need to increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline forcing consumers to use higher blends such as E15 and E20. While many cars and trucks are built to accommodate higher blends rates no motorcycles currently imported to the US are approved by the EPA to use anything more than E10. Additionally, the fear is that the higher blend requirements with drive the availability down and price up of fuel without ethanol (E0 or sometimes called non-oxygenated fuel). Concern about using the E15 or greater blends surrounds the effect the fuel has on engines not designed to use it. The ethanol in the fuel can have a corrosive effect on some plastics and rubber components, as well as adversely impacting engine performance. Older motorcycles, especially pre-2000 machines are at greater risk to damage from higher ethanol blends.
Italy Bans the Vespa?
Genoa, Italy, the birthplace of Vespa is trying to ban to use of Vespas built before 1999, specifically the two-stroke Euro 0 models, in the city between 7 AM and 7 PM in an effort to curb smog. In December the mayor of Genoa, Marco Doria, approved the anti-smog program that was scheduled to begin in February. It would have stranded an estimated 20,000 riders in Genoa, a city that claims to have more motorcycles per capita than anywhere else in Italy. The move did spark large protests and hashtag #handsoffmyvespa went viral on social media. The furor it produced worked and the mayor has held off putting the measure into effect.
The measure is not dead and mayor is quoted as saying the older Vespas pollute a lot and are a danger to public health. It is estimated that 180,000 people use two-wheeled transportation (motorcycles, scooters, mopeds) in Genoa out of its 600,000 residents.
In February Uber, the ride sharing app, which allows users to hail a ride in the car of a local driver using a smart phone app launched a new service in Bangkok, Thailand called UberMoto. The new service allowed brave users to hail a ride using their app on the back of a scooter or motorcycle in the city. Bangkok is extremely large and has the traffic congestion problem a city that size inevitably faces. Uber saw this has an opportunity to make inroads in cities with ride sharing demand, but heavy congestion. They are using this location as a pilot for the service.
The price for a 5-mile ride works out to roughly 64 Thai Baht or $1.84 in US Dollars. Interestingly, Uber requires helmet use and will provide a shared one for passengers who don’t bring their own, though a sweaty shared helmet in tropical climate sounds very unappealing.
Uber attempted to launch the service in Bangalore, India as well, and shortly after making the announcement a rival company, OLA, announced a competing hailing app for moto taxis. Following those announcements, the Indian government declared them illegal as unlicensed taxi services and both companies have shut down the service in Bangalore for the time being.