Rise of the Machines
At the 45th annual Tokyo Motor Show Yamaha unveiled its latest version of Motobot, Ver.2. The Motobot is a project between Yamaha and SRI International to create “a humanoid robot capable of autonomously riding a motorcycle around a racetrack.” The project began in 2015 with the Motobot Ver.1’s first objectives: run a top speed of 62 mph, navigate a slalom course, and turn through a corner. They were successful.
Skip ahead two years and the bar has been raised for Motobot Ver.2. The new challenge is to break 124 mph and take on a Yamaha factory-backed MotoGP rider in a race. A lofty goal no doubt, bigger still when you find out the rider Motobot Ver. 2 is up against is one of the most successful motorcycle racers in history. None other than, Valentino Rossi!
Yamaha recently released video of the race and fortunately we won’t have to answer to our new robot overlords quite yet. Rossi beat the Motobot around Thunderhill Raceway’s two-mile course by a 30 second margin. Both were riding what were essentially stock Yamaha R1’s. The Doctor had a lap time of 85.740 seconds compared to Motobot’s 117.504. While hardly a race, this does point to the direction that dynamic vehicle controls are headed. Yamaha states they hope to, “optimize control of vehicle dynamics to develop higher performing and safer forms of mobility.” In other words, increasingly sophisticated electronic rider aids and the possibility of autonomous motorcycles or at least bikes that limit the “hold my beer, watch this” incidents.
100,000,000 Super Cubs!
Honda celebrated a milestone that likely will never be broken this year. They announced that worldwide production of the Honda Super Cub series motorcycles surpassed 100 million units. Honda began production of the first-generation Super Cub C100 in August 1958 at the Yamato Plant. In 1961, based on Honda’s longstanding commitment to “build products close to the customer,” Honda began production of Super Cub C100 in Taiwan using components and parts from Japan. Now, Honda produces Super Cub series motorcycles at 16 plants in 15 countries around the world. The Super Cub is sold in more than 160 countries, but unfortunately the US is not one of those countries. In 2018, Honda will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Super Cub production making it the most mass-produced vehicle in history by a wide margin.
M/C Show Comes Early
The circus maximus of the Super Bowl has had one unintended benefit for Minnesota. The Progressive Insurance International Motorcycle show rolls into town two months early this year. The M/C show will be here Friday, December 8th – 10th. The show has exhibits from all the major manufacturers and a wide assortment of vendors. The Metal Mulisha will put on a Freestyle MX stunt show and there will be displays of vintage and custom machines. I am always disappointed they don’t offer the free M/C parking and demo rides at the Minneapolis show like they do for our southern cousins. Tickets are $16, and more info can be found here: www.motorcycleshows.com. (Pro-tip: buy your ticket online and avoid the long lines)
Keanu Reeves has added motorcycle design to his resume. If you weren’t aware Reeves owns a custom/high-end bike shop called Arch Motorcycles. The story goes it was formed when bike-designer Grad Hollinger got roped into helping Reeves modify an ’05 H-D Dyna. One thing led to another and the pair ended up forming Arch Motorcycles to build the funky sport cruisers. Last month, at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy (Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori if you have ever wondered) Reeves unveiled two new models designed by him and Hollinger, the Arch1 and Arch Method 143. Both are sporty looking customs with interesting lines. He also brought out an updated version of their first bike the KRGT-1. All are powered by large displacement (2000 -2400cc) H-D clone twins. With a starting price of $78,000, these are the high-end type of motorcycles that usually find their way into Jay Leno’s garage, museums, and private “collections”. A road test in MMM is highly unlikely. See more at: www.archmotorcycle.com.
Krawiec Takes 4th NHRA Drag Race Title For H-D
Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines rider Ed Krawiec took his fourth NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, CA.
Krawiec’s teammate, Andrew Hines, defeated him in an all-Harley-Davidson Pro Stock Motorcycle final. Hines wins moved him up to second place in the final season standings.
Hines and Krawiec charged through the field during the finals to meet for the 21st time in an NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle final, and for the ninth time Hines prevailed, with a 6.868-second ET beating Krawiec’s 6.930-second run. Krawiec recorded the low ET of the weekend with a 6.803-second blast in the third round. Hines set the top Pro Stock Motorcycle speed of the weekend at 197.42 mph in the first round. Both riders were aboard Screamin’ Eagle team Street Rods.
“We had a real struggle in the middle of the season trying to get our new motorcycles to work the way we wanted, but I really think that stretch made us better,” said Krawiec. “It caused us to look at every detail of our bikes and our tuning, which ultimately strengthened our program. Everything came together at the right time with the win at Indy.”
The Harley-Davidson® Screamin’ Eagle®/Vance & Hines team closes out the season with its ninth world championship and eight final-round wins in 16 events. In 2017 Krawiec won seven times in eight national event finals. He was the top qualifier at five races and went 41-9 in elimination rounds. Since joining the Harley-Davidson® Screamin’ Eagle®/Vance & Hines team in 2008, Krawiec has not finished lower than third in the standings and has 43 career victories, third-most behind Andrew Hines (48) and the late Dave Schultz (45).