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HOME » COLUMNISTS » #284 Falling Safely, Cheap Bikes, and Junior Pippin

#284 Falling Safely, Cheap Bikes, and Junior Pippin

Did you hear the rumour about Triumph’s involvement with the NHRA? If not, let’s start one now.

Until there’s an official notice saying otherwise, it’s safe to assume MotoGP is still the planet’s elite form of racing.
Some critics say the sport is now only about the pursuit of excellence in technology and that the out-of-control expense of developing race science will ultimately unravel the series. That doesn’t sound quite right to me. When has any race, anywhere, ever been about anything else but exploiting the very best tech money can buy and rules will allow? There is a change of the guard now at hand as old champs retire and new prospects rise to take their place, but that’s the natural order of things. And if money is a problem for the manufacturers, there’s a simple solution: sell more damn motorcycles!
There you go, problem solved. I guess my work here is now done.
MotoGP is still the big show. For a glimpse into the technology of the bikes themselves, visit Honda’s microsite for its RC-V GP bikes:
There you’ll find an inside look at Honda’s development factory with indepth reports on the engines, electronics, and body designs. There are interviews with engineers and riders, a history of the RC-V series, and much more, all illustrated with amazing detail photos and precise Autocad drawings. Fascinating stuff.
The microsite might help prep you for the MotoGP series 2012 tour of North America, which will again include two rounds: one at Laguna Seca, the other at Indianapolis. And if you do have a hankering to take in the Indy round but don’t really know much more about racing than the fact you’d like to see a world-class event, then read Steve Bond’s story this issue, “MotoGP: On the Road to Indy.” Find it on page 52.

SHOULD YOU DECIDE TO TAKE IN the Laguna Seca round July 27-29, it will also be your chance to learn firsthand how a line of lightweight inflatable vests and jackets using protective airbag technology works. will be demonstrating its airbag wares at booth space 26 during the Grand Prix weekend.
Personally, I’m skeptical and, if I have to be honest, somewhat nervous about trusting life and limb to a device that theoretically pops open at point of contact to cocoon a crashed rider.
But owner Alan Cunningham is all about confidence in the products he sells A competitive motorcycle racer himself, Cunningham says he hopes “to reach many of the thousands of spectators who are at this race, because they love motorcycling and want to continue to ride safely as long as they can.”
SaferMoto vests and jackets operate through a cord that connects to the motorcycle. Inflation from a CO2 cartridge is triggered instantly when the rider falls, offering protection to the rider’s neck, chest and spine.
SaferMoto’s provides testimonials. Listen to one Rob Grant of Agoura Hills, California, who apparently crashed while wearing a SaferMoto vest.
“Before I hit the ground, it went off,” says Grant. “I have to say it feels like you’re on an air mattress, nearly totally removed from what’s going on below you. Because of the vest’s neck brace, my helmet did not hit the ground. I felt zero shock to the body.”
Then there’s high praise from racer Brad Gyger of Los Gatos, California, who seems to have walked away from a multi-cycle accident at Thunderhill Raceway.  “Immediately my [airbag vest] pops and I’m given a bear hug of air; the tumbling is violent, but the vest takes the brunt and keeps me in one piece in the spots that matter, head to torso,” said Gyger who (so the story goes) helped paramedics take care of two other racers involved in the same crash. says that airbag-equipped apparel now is used in more than 30 countries worldwide and has been standard equipment for law enforcement departments including the Tokyo Police.
So, go ahead and try out the airbag apparel while you’re at Laguna Seca.
Drop me a line, let me know how it works out for you. Just don’t get hurt.

IMAGINE PAYING LESS THAN $1000 for a brand new motorcycle, acquired legally. That may not be so far-fetched.
Motor Sports Newswire reports that Yamaha plans to develop a motorcycle in India to be sold globally for about $500, as the company ramps-up operations on that continent.
Yamaha is investing 23 billion rupees in India in the next five years to develop new products, build a new factory and raise output to meet the expected surge in demand. By 2018, it plans to make about 2.8 million vehicles a year in India, up from about 600,000 now.
Hiroyuki Suzuki, chief executive of India Yamaha, said India Yamaha wants to strengthen its research and development capabilities to develop low-cost models without its parent’s support. Mr. Suzuki didn’t specify any timeline for introducing the new entry-level motorcycle, but said it will be exported as well.

TRIUMPH IS SET TO ENTER THE WORLD of NHRA Pro Stock racing—an arena that is more likely to feature monster American V-Twins than English parallels. An email from Triumph Canada General Manager confirmed his company’s involvement with Junior Pippin’s 2012 race program. But the good ol’ boy from Georgia is a stone-cold big-inch Harley guy … so what’s up with that? Is Triumph on the verge of developing something specific for the Pro Stock class? Nah. At least not right now. For Triumph, it’s strictly a sponsorship opportunity through four rounds of NHRA action.
“This is really about participation in drag racing and an opportunity for Triumph in the NHRA,” said Mr. Ellis, who responded promptly to an inquiring email. “The project will evolve for the future, should be interesting. At this point, Triumph is no different from Castrol as a sponsor. We are promoting our interest in motorcycling, in racing and building high performance motorcycles since 1902.”
So, there you have it. Triumph is only backing Junior because they’re just that into racing. Okay. But, you’ll notice that Chris Ellis—who is an extremely sharp customer—used the phrases “evolve for the future” and “should be interesting.
Consider the pot stirred Mr. Ellis.


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