by Thomas Day

Helmets are Noise Makers?
UPI reports that a study (“Aeroacoustic Sources of Motorcycle Helmet Noise”) from the University of Bath and Bath Spa University in England claims that helmet airflow creates the “biggest source of noise for motorcyclists.” According to the UPI, the study “placed motorcycle helmets atop mannequin heads, mounted them in a wind tunnel and turned on the fans. By placing microphones at various locations around the helmet and at the mannequin’s ear, the researchers found that an area underneath the helmet and near the chin bar is a significant source of the noise that reaches riders’ sensitive eardrums.”

No information is yet available regarding the helmets used in the study or how the mannequins were positioned in the wind tunnel or how that noise compares to helmet-less noise levels. The academic paper has been submitted for publication in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

An Italian Motorcycle Giant Is Gone
The 64-year-old founder of Cagiva, Claudio Castiglioni, died of an undisclosed illness on the 17th of August 2011. Castiglioni was a giant in the world motorcycling industry who led not only Cagiva but MV Agusta, Ducati, and Husqvarna. Castiglioni began his career in the family machine and manufacturing business before founding Cagiva in 1978. Castiglioni purchased Ducati, Husqvarna and MV Agusta and was responsible for the leadership that created classic and stylish motorcycles like the Cagiva Elefant Ducati’s 916 and Monster, and MV Agusta’s F3, F4 and the Brutale.

Racing was Castiglioni’s passion and his family brand made it’s name with championship world motocross and 500cc GP riders such as Dave Strijbos, Pekka Vehkonen, Randy Mamola, Eddie Lawson, John Kocinski and in the Paris-Dakar with champion rider Edi Orioli. Ducati owned seasons of the World Superbike Championship with the 851 and 916 and Husqvarna racked up Enduro, Motocross and Supermotard World Championships under Mr. Castiglioni’s leadership and enthusiasm.

Finally, his vision for MV Agusta-produced motorcycles has driven how motorcyclists over the world perceive beautiful and functional designs. His son, Giovanni, carries on the family tradition with MV Agusta and we can only hope that history of leadership, vision, quality, and creativity continues to reflect the modern view of “Made in Italy”

Lane Sharing/Splitting Studies
The Ride to Work Day organization has provided links to a paper by San Francisco-based transportation safety specialist (and rider) Steve Guderian, “Lane Sharing: A Global Solution for Motorcycle Safety” and an Oregon State study on the same subject, “Motorcycle Lane Sharing: Literature Review.” You can find both studies under “Resources for Advocates” on the Ride to Work Day “files” page:

Winter Bike Show in Minnesota
Cycle World Magazine is no longer the sponsor for the annual International Motorcycle Show. This year it’s being called the “The 31st Annual Progressive International Motorcycle Shows Series.” The show will be back at the Minneapolis Convention Center on February 3-5, 2012.

Burning up the Asphalt
The East Coast Timing Association clocked a Florida fish farmer, Bill Warner, turn a record-breaking 311.94 mph at an abandoned Air Force base in Limestone, Maine. Warner set his record time on a 2.5-mile runway on a modified Suzuki GSX-1300 Hayabusa. His bike is the first non-streamlined motorcycle to break the 300mph barrier. In a New York Times interview Warner said, “The bike was handling very, very well. I was in sixth gear, and my shift light flickered at 12,000 rpm before I’d gotten to the end of the speed traps. So I knew I was going fast. I’ve been working on this speed for the last two or three years, and with this big fairing on the bike, the air is really going right around me.” Stopping was a whole different issue as the bike “skips and bounces and slides. There is so much weight transfer to the front that it takes most of the mile-long braking area to get it back down to a comfortable speed.”

Too Hot to Ride
The Eastern District of California and a U.S. District Judge have ruled that a lawsuit against Harley Davidson can go forward. In a class action suit, the plaintiffs claim that “Twin Cam 88, 96, 103 and 110 cubic inch engines in Harley motorcycles produce severe, excessive heat causing clothing to catch on fire, burn injuries and the danger of burn injury to riders and passengers as well as overheating causing premature engine wear and in models manufactured after 2006, transmission failure.” Currently, the lawsuit is limited to motorcycles sold in California.

Greg Owen, one of the lawyers presenting the suit, said, “Harley Davidson has known about this problem from the early 2000s and has the technology to fix it, but has chosen to sell tens of thousands of touring bikes here in California without disclosing this known defect. When Harley customers complain to dealers after purchase, H-D’s response is that “is normal and it refuses to offer an effective fix to the problem.”

Honda Brings It On
Honda announced that the company would be offering the race-ready NSF250R to the US market in 2012. The liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 249cc four-stroke was designed for Moto3-class FIM GP road racing and is legal for our own USGPRU Moto 3 and WERA Motorcycle Road Racing classes. In Honda’s press release a spokesperson said, “This is a great opportunity for people who want to start road racing with a full-on track bike. Now riders have the option of buying a purpose-built, race-ready motorcycle right out of the box, as an alternative to modifying a street bike, all at a reasonable price.” MSRP $28,599, to be exact. Deliveries are expected in February 2012 and orders must be placed by September 2, 2011.

They’re Back?
England’s Somerset-based Ariel Motor Company is back in the two-wheeled business. The 1898-founded Brit company claims to be ready to return to the two-wheeled world in 2012. Simon Saunders, Ariel’s boss, has bragged to the media that Ariel will build 200 one-off motorcycles in 2012. Like traditional Brit motorcycles Simon claims “’No two bikes will be the same – we want to offer more than a superbike or track bike. If a customer tells us they want something set up for touring, we’ll make it.” Prices start at £20,000 ($32,846.67 US, not counting import fees, tariffs, and options). Currently Ariel Motor Company sells the “no door, no roof, no windshield” two-seat Atom “sports car”, a $62,500 GM-powered toy for the guy who owns everything.

Free As The Wind
St. Louis rider, Jacob Southard, has discovered a way to get drivers to “start seeing motorcyclists”; he straps on a helmet, a neon-green Borat-mankini, and a pair of low-top sneakers and hits the road on his Yamaha sportbike with the wind blowing through all of his hair. From any distance, Southard looks naked as he rides I-70 to and from work. He claims he’s just “beatin’ the heat,” but he is clearly turning a lot of heads. St. Louis has had its share of over-100ºF days this year. If you’re bi-curious, KPLR Television’s video-article on Southard is the only way to get this story:,0,1244224.story.

iPhone Your Ride
Pirelli is giving away an iPhone app that records your lean angle, corner speed, overall speed, distance, and lap time and lets you show it all off on Facebook via Google Maps. It’s free from Apple’s App Store and you’ll need an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.2 or later.

Two Motorcyclists Down in Mankato
At approximately 11am on July 20th, a 17-year-old delivery driver for Arctic Ice, a Mankato packaged ice delivery service, crossed the center line on Highway 14 outside of North Mankato and killed two west-bound motorcyclists, Lars A. Albrecht, 49, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and Robert N. Austin, 61, of Canby, Oregon. A car driver and his son were also injured by the out-of-control truck. The driver of the truck was slightly injured. The Minnesota state patrol said the teenager fell asleep at the wheel and allowed the company-owned Dodge pickup to drift into the opposite traffic lane.

Albrecht was pronounced dead at the scene and Austin was flown to St. Mary’s in Rochester where he died of injuries. The truck driver’s name has not been released because he is underage. Both motorcyclists were wearing helmets.

Motorcycle Hitchhiker
A Victorville, CA motorist discovered a semi-conscious motorcyclist in his backseat as a result of a rear end collision. After a motorcycle slid into the back of a turning minivan, the van driver continued a short distance to his home to call the police before returning to the scene of the crash. Meanwhile, police had arrived at the scene, found a damaged motorcycle, but no victim. The motorcyclist had crashed through the van’s rear window and ended up dazed and confused in the van’s rear passenger seat. Other than asking for an ice pack for an injured hand, the motorcyclist was apparently uninjured. Police said his helmet “sustained most of the impact,” No charges were filed and the crash was listed as a “non-injury collision with a twist,” according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office.

South Dakota Crash
Shakopee resident Robert Best, 54, crashed his motorcycle into the back of a stopped pickup driven by Kelley Nible, 22, of Buffalo, SD. Best died from crash-related injuries at Spearfish Regional Hospital, The 22-year-old pickup driver was charged with for invalid license plates and on a seat-belt violation.

The Rapid City Journal reported that Best’s motorcycle brakes “locked up, causing him to lay the bike down on the highway and slide into the back of a pickup.” This kind of reporting demonstrates a depressing lack of knowledge about how vehicle brakes work in general, let alone any comprehension of how a rider’s application of motorcycle brakes can result in a crash.

The Sky Is Falling, But Kids Can Ride
In the midst of the nation’s worst economic situation in 80 years, President Obama signed into law H.R. 2715, exempting kids’ OHVs from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, also known as the lead law. 2009’s CPSIA banned manufacturing or selling children’s products that contained more than a limited amount of lead. This included kids’ dirtbikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). In a rare example of congressional harmony, H.R. 2715 passed the House with a 421-2 vote and was unanimously approved by the Senate on August 1. The next day, the hard working lawmakers took off on their summer vacations.

American V-Twin Dealer Show
First they have segregated racing events, with each boutique manufacturer lumbering around a track tailed by a dozen identical motorcycles. Now, they want to have their own dealer show without the hassle of those nasty current technology manufacturers messing up the lines of giant chrome cruisers. Advanstar Communications is accommodating the “premium” V-twin brands with The American V-Twin Dealer Show at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis February 17-19, 2012. The event is designed to be “a haven for Independent Specialty V-Twin Dealers, Harley-Davidson Dealers, Custom Bike Builders/Designers and Multi-Franchise Dealerships with large cruiser lines.” No motorcycles with any connection to 21st Century technology will be allowed.

Airbag Jackets and Vests
US company SaferMoto is marketing a line of “airbag-equipped jackets and vests for all ages” that can “deploy in less than a quarter of a second. A tether cord connects the vest or jacket to the motorcycle, and inflation from a compact replaceable CO2 cartridge is triggered instantly when the rider falls.” Airbag gear is used by the Tokyo Police Department, is marketed in more than 30 countries, and has been credited with saving lives and limbs by all sorts of riders. The company makes airbag gear for equestrians, too.

NHTSA August Motorcycle Recalls
2006-2011 Victory Kingpin Touring, double backrest seat (part number 2876641-01), 2004-2011 Victory Jackpot Touring with backrest seat (part number 2875961-01): The backrest can separate from the motorcycle while it is in use, posing a fall risk to passengers. The company received two confirmed reports of injuries to passengers as a direct result of this defect.


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