by Thomas Day
Motorcycle Safety in the News Motorcycle fatality and injury rates are beginning to show up in major news conversation. In late March, the Gannett News Service, for example, issued a summary of the recent studies to all of its subscribers that attracted a lot of public and motorcyclists’ attention. This follows often quoted articles from the New York Times titled “For Riders, Risk Is Growing” and an L.A. Times analysis titled “A fresh look at bike safety”. Regional news sources have picked up on these reports and have added their own take on the story. The gist is that many eyes are suddenly on motorcycle safety data. Motorcycle groups are working hard to spin the numbers (for example, Jeff Hennie’s rebuttal to the Gannett article in USAToday.
Still, public attention is turning toward motorcycling’s safety record, which appears to be linked to vanishing state helmet laws—from 47 states to 20 in two decades—and other factors. U.S. Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters, is actively petitioning Congress to enact helmet law legislation. Insurance companies are looking to further penalize “supersport motorcycles” owners, using the argument that “…the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute reported in September  that supersport riders have death rates nearly four times higher than riders using other types of motorcycles…”
Tim Buche, president of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, stated in the L.A. Times article, “There’s a long list of things that have changed over the years… Motorcyclists still tend to be about 0.5% of vehicle miles traveled, but motorcycle fatalities are approximately 10% of all roadway fatalities in the United States.” As other vehicle safety statistics have steadily improved in the last decade, the rising rate of motorcycle deaths is focusing attention on our vehicle of choice.
AMA Announces the ISDE Trophy Team The Trophy Team for the 2008 International Six Days Enduro held in Serres, Greece will be Destry Abbott, Kurt Caselli, Ricky Dietrich, Jimmy Jarrett, Nathan Kanney and Nathan Woods. “We are extremely honored to have riders of this caliber representing the United States at the ISDE,” said AMA Off-Road Racing Director, Chuck Weir. “Thanks to new selection procedures this year, we’re able to name our Trophy Team much earlier than in the past. This not only allows us to field our best riders, but it gives everyone involved an opportunity to be as prepared as possible to represent the United States at this storied international event.”
BMW and Buell Score with New Bikes at HOCKENHEIM 1000 Entering the start of the German racing season at the Hokenheim 1000-km Endurance Race, both BMW and Buell tested their newest sportbikes and surprised the field that included 130 team entries from KTM, Aprilia, Honda, MZ, Suzuki, Yamaha and Ducati. The first five places were occupied by:
1. Team Motobike BMW HP2 Sport 2. Buell Hannover Buell 1125 R 3. KTM Germany KTM RC8 4. KTM Germany KTM RC8 5. Buell Racing Bonn Buell 1125 R
A Tough Week in Estoril The Estoril MotoGP was hard on a lot of riders. Factory riders, Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosam both experienced blown motors on their new pneumatic valve factory Hondas. Spanish GP top 125cc rider, Bradley Smith, and Danny Webb crashed their Aprilias in practice runs, but neither were hurt.
Webb just removed stitches from a vicious tear on his ring finger before his qualifying run and then went down on his last, and fastest, lap.Valentino Rossi experienced a spectacular high side in his opening MotoGP practice session. Rossi lost control of the Fiat Yamaha’s back tire on the last corner while running the fastest time of the day. He hit the ground hard, but walked away unhurt.
Saved by the Governor The AMA reports that Washington State’s Governor, Christine Gregoire, line-item vetod a measure that “would have banned all construction of new trails or facilities for off-road motorized recreation for at least a year.
“The measure, which had been inserted in the state budget in a last-minute maneuver, without the opportunity for public debate, would have prohibited the state’s Department of Natural Resources from building or expanding trails or facilities for off-road recreational vehicles until July, 2009. It was one of seven sections of the proposed capital budget that Gov. Gregoire vetoed.”
“We are very gratified that Gov. Gregoire recognized the unfairness of this measure, which would have cut off funding for off-road motorized recreation while continuing to collect taxes and fees from off-road vehicle users,” said AMA Western States Representative, Nick Haris. “Gov. Gregoire heard from hundreds of concerned citizens who were unhappy about the way the Washington state legislature approved this ban in the dark of night, and she did the right thing by reversing it.”
Be Heard or Be Banned The US Forest Service is running a “Travel Management Survey” at http://online.svia.org/survey/cgi-bin/qweb.cgi?4YXM42B. “Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA),” the AMA/ATVA, and other national motorized recreation groups developed this survey “to gain a better understanding of how the US Forest Service’s travel management rule is being implemented on the National Forest lands . . . “
The AMA asks that you take the survey to make your voice heard. In November 2005, the US Forest Service issued a Travel Management Rule which requires each U.S. forest to designate roads, trails and areas open to OHV use, and provide a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). If you want a voice in where you get to ride in public forests, “the AMA encourages all OHV enthusiasts to be involved in the travel management process.”
“Long Way Down” Premieres On Fox Reality Channel August 2 Making its US television premiere on Fox Reality Channel, Saturday, August 2, in a ten episode series, Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman ride from John O’Groats, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa on a pair of BMW GS’s. The show describes motoring 15,000 miles in 85 days, crossing two continents, with the familiar (from “Long Way Round”) world traveling problems and entertainment.
Two Wheels and No Gas There are now at least 4 manufacturers (the Brammo Enertia, Zero Motorcycles X, Vectrix, and the Intelligent Energy ENV) providing alternatively powered, on-and-off-road, motorcycles and scooters. “As with cars, there’s been a lot of noise about motorcycles going electric,” says Sean Daily, CEO of greenlivingideas.com. These companies are “bringing the concept to market.” Three of the four companies are US-designed and manufactured.
Finally, A Macho Earplug Skull Screws from Hearos are the first foam ear plugs that were designed around the way people put ear plugs in their ears” and “Skull Screws are the coolest ear plugs we’ve ever done,” said Doug Pick, Founder and CEO of DAP World. “Focus groups were conducted that enabled us to see firsthand how people inherently think they should insert ear plugs. We then developed a design that was congruent with their actions. In other words, consumers like to screw ’em in their ears!”
The ads for Skull Screws include a red-eyed, leering skull with huge screws drilled through the side of it. Look for them on the drugstore shelf; you can’t miss them. Skull Screws are soft, washable and reusable foam tips connected to screw-like stems, and provide an impressive 30 decibel NRR.
NHTSA Recalls Big Bear Choppers 2004-2005 Devil’s Advocate, Venom; 2005 Sled: Weak welds between the frame neck, backbone, and down tubes crack causing steering column neck separation and front end collapse.
BMW 2007 G650X Challenge, G650X Country, G650X Moto: Damaged fuel lines leak fuel.
Kawasaki 2008 EX250J8F, EX250J8FL: Front brake hose deflects forward during suspension travel and rubs against the edge of the front fork outer tube causing a brake fluid leak.
Polaris Industries 2008 Victory Vision: Ignition switch internal electrical contact plate comes loose from the switch body causing unexpected loss of electrical power and stall.