MotoBrief Free Helmet Contest

We’re into the second week of the MCN Fantasy Road Race 2008, and I’m in second place. There are plenty of races coming up, so it’s not too late to sign up and try to win an Arai helmet. will also be giving away a helmet camera to the second place finisher.

All you have to do to participate is go the the Fantasy Road Race website, create an account and pick your team, then send me an email and tell me your team name. I’ll send you the code necessary to join the league and you’ll be in the running for a new (and pretty awesome) helmet.

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Two Fatal Motorcycle Accidents at Bike Week

Bike Week 2008 LogoWFTV 9 in Florida is reporting that Bike Week has already racked up two fatal motorcycle accidents.

Bike Week is a massive event. It gets a lot of attention. And it’s a shame that attention always includes articles focusing on Bike Week fatalities. Even this article closes by noting the eight deaths last year.

The two accidents cited here aren’t attributable to wild Bike Week partying. One rider lost control in a corner and the other had a vehicle pull out and collide with him — the most common cause of single vehicle and multiple vehicle motorcycle crashes, respectively. These accidents could have happened anywhere. They do happen anywhere, every single day.

Still, I wish someone at Bike Week would take a more active interest in motorcycle safety. The annual BMW MOA Rally, which draws a fraction of the Bike Week attendees, often has motorcycle rider training available. (In fact, the BMW MOA home page is currently asking for MSF-certified RiderCoaches to facilitate some ERC classes.)

I couldn’t find a single event listed on the Bike Week site that was focused on improving rider skills. Why not? I can’t believe that they wouldn’t fill up some ERCs in a heartbeat, given the number of people at Bike Week. Come on, Bike Week organizers, it wouldn’t be the end of the world is some of your guests spent a few hours at a motorcycle class instead of a bar, right?

(And if there is some kind of rider training available, then you need a serious redesign of your website. Actually, a redesign wouldn’t hurt either way.)

Posted in Motorcycling, Riding Safe | Leave a comment

MCN Fantasy Road Racing Is Now Free

For years I’ve been left out of fantasy sports. I just don’t care about football, baseball or basketball so there’s never really been much allure. But now MCN is hosting Fantasy Road Race 2008 and I’m ready to go. They’ve made it free to play. There are prizes for each round and a grand prize of a 2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R (although you are only eligible for prizes if you’re in the UK — tough luck for those of us in the U.S.).

You can also join private leagues to compete with other players. I’ve created a league for and I’m going to figure out some decent prize for whoever comes out on top in the MotoBrief league. I can’t give away a motorcycle, but I promise it’ll be some neat gadget or piece of gear. So go create your team today and then join private league number 38.

UPDATE: Don’t forget that I don’t have anything to do with MCN, other than being a fan of the site. I won’t have any information about who you are when you join league 38, and I won’t have any way of contacting you should your team come in first.

So please, add a comment here telling me your manager name and your team’s name (and include an email address — it won’t appear with your comment and won’t be shared with anyone), or send me an email at

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Motorcyclist Online Interview with Scott Summers

GNCC Racing LogoMotorcyclist has a good interview with Scott Summers, who has been tapped to manage the BMW team in the Grand National Cross Country series through 2010. He seems pretty impressed with the G 450 X.

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1970s Vintage Motocross Photos on Flickr

Vintage Motocross Photo

You never know what you’re going to find when you move. You start boxing things up and pretty soon you’re stumbling across stuff you’d forgotten about years ago. That’s what happened to Lee Sutton. An amateur motocross racer in the 70s, Lee uncovered a stash of photographs he’d shot during his time at the tracks of Northern California.

Unfortunately, about half the negatives were ruined. After all, in 1975 there wasn’t much for someone to do with a bunch of pictures like this. You could share them with friends — provided they lived nearby and you got together to have a look. You could submit the best of the best for publication somewhere. Or you could put them in a box.

Today, things are different. Lee picked out the best of the surviving photos and did what anyone would do — he uploaded them to a Flickr photoset. Within days knowledgeable fans had annotated the pictures with details and reminiscences of racetracks, riders and their machines.

I love the Internet.

Posted in Motorcycling, Racing, Vintage | 6 Comments

Dainese D-Air Racing System — Airbag for Motorcycles

Gizmag has an article on Dainese’s motorcycle airbag. It’s a revolutionary system — the high tech gear does not require a connection to the motorcycle like the airbag on the Honda Goldwing. Instead, accelerometers and gyros identify movement that looks like a crash and deploys an airbag stashed in the hump on racing leathers.

The idea of an airbag on a motorcycle has always struck me as kind of crazy, but the airbag has already been used in an actual race. It was used for the first time in the Valencia MotoGP 125cc world championship. Let’s go to YouTube for the action:

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How Do Motorcycles Turn?

Teaching motorcycle safety classes, I’ve come across many people who think they understand how a motorcycle turns and are completely wrong.

Some people think that it’s about throwing or shifting one’s body weight into the corner to lean the motorcycle over. In fact, pressing forward on the handgrip in the direction you are turning — in other words, pressing in a way that causes your tire to begin to turn away from direction you want to go — triggers a complex mess o’ physics that’s way over my head because I copied Joe Smith’s answers in my high school Physics class.

The act of turning the tire away from the turn is known as countersteering. I suspect those people who argue that they lean with their body end up putting pressure on the inside handgrip and countersteering without realizing that it happens.

That was certainly the case with me. I’ve ridden from a very young age and was a reasonably competent rider. I didn’t have any problem leaning into a turn and holding my line. But I had a number of close calls where, at very low speeds, I needed to avoid clipping a vehicle or some other object and found myself squirming and moving my butt to the side. I’d squeak past, but just barely. And I couldn’t understand why I didn’t have better directional control in those situations.

It was only after I’d become an instructor — my first exposure to formal riding education — that I understood that in those panicked moments I was trying to turn my front tire away from the obstacle and that countersteering was sending me closer to it. What came naturally in a long, sweeping curve went out the window when I was thinking desperately about it.

This YouTube video does a fantastic job of showing how countersteering works and explains it in a way that even Mr. Cantwell’s worst “C” student can understand.

Posted in Motorcycling, Riding Safe | 2 Comments

NYPD Pilots Electric Scooters brought us an Associated Press story that NYPD is testing out electric scooters this month. The plug-in Vectrix scooters may seem an unlikely police vehicle, but the AP story says the force already uses traditional Piaggio and Yamaha scooters to patrol parks and street demonstrations.

Vectra MaxiThis isn’t motorcycling news, obviously, but there are a number of electric motorcycle projects underway and it will be interesting to see how far two-wheeled electric vehicles make it into the mainstream. Getting them on the streets in NYC seems like a pretty good start.

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Dakar Rally Theme Music

So I won’t get any Dakar this year — but a number of places have pointed out that the theme music used in the rally is available on the iTunes Store. I guess that’s something.

Wock - KemaanThe music is by a Senegalese band called Wock and the song featured in Dakar promos and coverage is Sama Amie [affiliate link]. It’s really beautiful music and I’m glad I’ve found it.

Unfortunately, Wock appears to be on the BMG France label. BMG is one of those record labels trying to convince everyone that Apple’s actually the enemy and that the record label would have been happy to let you have reasonably-priced music downloads long ago if Apple hadn’t stood in the way.

This is the same Sony BMG that attempted to secretly install rootkits on customers’ PCs so they could restrict them from ripping CDs to digital format, but they’d prefer you forgot about that. So as far as I can tell, there’s no DRM-free version of Wock’s music available for purchase; BMG has declined to offer DRM-free downloads in the iTunes Store.

I bought the album anyway despite the DRM. It’s great music that evokes images of past Dakars while I wait for 2009.

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Dakar Video on YouTube

With the Dakar cancelled, this YouTube video has been getting some new attention and a bunch of new comments. I’m still crushed from the cancellation and wondering what they’re going to do in the future.

Apparently, Chile & Argentina are angling to have the Dakar held in South America. Isn’t the Dakar all about Africa? Wouldn’t it be just another rally if were held anywhere else? I suspect relocating the Dakar would take away a lot of its allure and I’m betting that when A.S.O announces their plan for 2009 it’ll be focused on increasing security in Africa and planning for alternate routes in case of trouble.

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