Get a Degree in Motorcycle Engineering

Burning the midnight oil studying your bachelors of law? Well, it’s time to stop going down a path of misery and disappointment and instead study something fun and worthwhile – the bachelor of engineering degree specialising in motorcycle engineering at the University of Wales. Quite possibly the only degree of its kind on the planet, the course has been running since 2003 and was started and is still run by a Dr Owen Williams who of course loves bikes.

This isn’t just some quirky course that won’t lead anywhere though – the BEng Motorcycle Engineering Degree has an impressive alumni that has seen students get jobs with MotoGP teams (including Tech3 Yamaha), Triumph Motorcycles, Norton Motorcycles and even the Mercedes F1 team.

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The ball started rolling back in 1998 when the university began the worlds first motorsport engineering degree and just five years later, the two wheeled variant began with support from Peter Clifford (a veteran of the industry who a team principal at Red Bull Yamaha WCM MotoGP team) and Tony Foale who is a legend in motorcycle race engineering. Fast forward to the present and the course continues to attract students from around the world including Japan, the USA, Germany and Australia as well as UK locals.

The course covers a wide range of both practical and theoretical areas of motorcycle racing and engineering, including subjects on powertrain and control, stress analysis, advanced engine design, thermoflud mechanics and more. The facilities that are on campus would make any amateur racer weep with jealousy and include fully equipped workshops, a dyno cell, cnc lab, a five-axis lathe, a composites lab and more.

It’s gets worse (better) though. Throughout the year students do track days to learn (and apply) data acquisition and rider feedback in a track environment with students being able to take their own bike the track as part of it. The university even has their own race team, Team V4, which has both a development arm and a racing arm to put as much theory into practice as possible using a fleet of Honda VFR400 NC30s.

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When I asked Dr Williams what a typical student is he said, “Almost exclusively motorcycle fanatics! We do have a number every year who come to us with the right level of maths and physics but a large proportion, as you alluded to, don’t have the correct academic background. For these guys (and girls) we have our ‘foundation entry’ route, which is designed to get them up to speed with the necessary academic demands. What we tend to find is that many of them were ‘turned off’ maths and science in school due to either bad teaching or a lack of ever being shown what maths and science was actually for.”

“We find that when shown what you can actually use hard maths for (suspension being a good example) people forget about the fact that they “hate maths” or “are rubbish at it” and get stuck in. For me, it’s all about how its taught. As an example, one of our foundation guys, from a mechanics background, just graduated and joined Team Suzuki ECSTAR (MotoGP) as a Performance Analysis Engineer.”

And if you need any more convincing that this would be the coolest degree you could ever get, below is a picture of Dr Williams’ from his bio page:

dr williams motorcycle engineering degree

Head on over to the their ‘unofficial‘ page for more info.

Five Things You (Maybe) Don’t Know About Your Motorcycle Insurance

Next to the thrill of racing around the track on two wheels at speeds that would make your mother fret, motorcycle insurance is a bland topic but it is an essential one. What is also essential is to know some of the quirks that people often aren’t aware about when it comes to motorcycle insurance – some good and some bad.

Before we get into the meat of the article, a disclaimer. Insurance is a complicated product and policies not only vary greatly from company to company, they can also be implemented completely different depending on what country you’re in and even which state or province you reside. As a general rule, insurance is tied to the vehicle in Australia, while in the UK it’s attached to the individual. In the US, insurance is a complicated mess that requires plenty of work to make sure you’re properly covered.

Our advice is therefore to always speak to your insurer directly or if in the market for a new policy, get in touch with an insurance broker. This article does look at motorcycle insurance in a generic way and should not be taken as legal or financial advice for your specific situation.

Some Insurance Policies Let you Ride at the Track

This may sound too good to be true and to a degree it is. Most insurance companies won’t cover your at the track, full stop. However, some will cover you if the purpose of being at the track is for rider training, while others will cover you carte blanche through their standard policy.

In Australia there are many insurance companies that will insure your ride if you undertake advanced courses. QBE will cover the level 1 California Superbike School course which involves a serious amount of track time and may also cover other ‘racier’ types of training that is with an approved and accredited training organisation. InsureMyRide covers a number of advanced courses from TopRider which take place on a track and a number of insurers also cover advanced courses from Stay Upright

motorcycle insurance motorcycle track day

If you’re at a track day where there’s no timing or a hint of racing your policy could cover you. Riding a Goldwing would no doubt help convince the insurance company of the non-racing clause.

In the USA, the coverage for taking your to the track bike varies immensely from policy to policy and state to state. State Farm however has an excellent reputation among motorcyclists and they do cover your bike at the track if it is involved at an educational riding event. That’s a phrase open to interpretation but many motorcyclists have reported crashing at track days (not racing) and State Farm has covered them. There are also policies from specialised insurance agencies such as Einhorn in California that do include coverage for track days as long as riders aren’t racing for dollars or points.

In the UK, MCE Insurance amazingly provides free track day cover with all comprehensive insurance policies and covers you provided the event is not timed, is managed to provide an appropriate safety distance between vehicles on the track, authorised stewards and marshalls are employed to supervise the event and there is no element of racing against other motorcycles or against the clock. That said, MCE’s reputation isn’t the greatest out there…

Your Bike Isn’t Covered if Someone Takes it for a Test Ride

Selling your bike and hoping to seal the deal by letting the interested party take it for a quick spin? Think twice – many policies won’t cover you and if you’re in the UK, you have to be certain the person getting on your bike is insured themselves.

Bennetts informed us that if the person who wishes to ride your bike has their own insurance on their own bike, they may be able to ride it on a 3rd party only basis. However, this is something that they would have to check with their own insurer and you’d certainly want proof of their coverage. Sadly, if a new rider who doesn’t currently own a bike comes knocking, there’s no way he or she will be covered and you therefore become personally liable for any damage or injury they cause.

Before letting anyone take your bike for a test ride, ensure that you're covered if the tester crashes or steals your bike.

Before letting anyone take your bike for a test ride, ensure that you’re covered if the tester crashes or steals your bike.

In the US it is again a case of individual policy detail. Geico informed us that they won’t cover your bike should it be taken for a test ride. Allstate Insurance is more accommodating and stated that test rides are generally covered under the permissive use terms of the motorcycle policy – that is, what occurs while the motorcycle’s being test-driven is typically covered to policy limits.

Most insurance companies in Australia will cover your bike when if it is being test ridden, as long as the person riding it is permitted by law to do so. That means a LAMS rider who is close to getting his open license can’t take your Hayabusa for a test ride because they’re not legally allowed to and that would mean they and your bike won’t be covered. The only major insurer who specifically mentions test rides in their product disclosure statement is Swann Insurance who state that it may refuse or reduce a claim if your bike is stolen whilst being tested by a prospective buyer.

Some Insurers Base Their Premium on when you got any type of Driving License

The majority of insurers will base your premium on a number of factors but a large determinant of how much you pay for your insurance is how long you’ve had your motorcycle license. Brand new riders obviously will be riskier while riders who have held an appropriate license for 10 years are classed as having a lower risk.

But some companies take a different approach and will calculate your premium on how long you’ve been on the road for – car or bike. That means for people who start riding in later years, your experience on the road driving a car is taken into account. So if you’ve had a car license for 15 years and only your bike license for a single year, the insurer will take into account your complete history. In Australia, NRMA does this which can make a big difference to premiums.

Do your research and see if your policy can be based on your total driving history if you've only had your bike license for a short period.

Do your research and see if your policy can be based on your total driving history if you’ve only had your bike license for a short period.

Dori Einhorn from Einhorn Insurance Agency said that, “There are a lot of variables that are considered when determining premium.” They do include the driving experience of the rider but it is only one factor out of many which include if the bike has ABS, the type of bike and the amount of mileage the rider covers on average each year.

Your Gear Can be Covered, Too

Good quality motorcycle gear isn’t cheap and no doubt there’s some riders out there who wear clothing that is worth more than their bike. Yet, many riders overlook getting their gear covered – either for theft or damage – despite the cost involved in replacing it.

Specialist motorcycle insurance companies usually have some level of gear cover in their policies although it may only be enough to cover a fraction of the replacement cost of your jacket, helmet and so on. There’s usually the option to raise it to more realistic levels but even then, some insurance companies don’t offer high coverage levels.

Allstate Insurance will go up to $1,000 for gear and an additional $500 to cover your helmet separately. That seems roughly inline with other providers although it does seem strangely to vary from state to state.

Your lid can save your life, but it perhaps isn't cheap to replace.

Your lid can save your life, but it perhaps isn’t cheap to replace.

The RAC in the UK will cover up to £750 for your leathers and helmets, but not boots or gloves and you do have to pay extra for it. Bennetts also provides £750 of cover for a small increase in your premium but also includes coverage for your gloves and boots. Carole Nash will do better at £1,000 coverage for an additional £40.99 on your premium each year.

For Australians, Shannons has a fairly generous standard policy of covering things such as helmets (including visor and/or radio communications), gloves, leather jackets and pants, boots and other specific riding gear – up to $3,000 for the rider, $1,500 for a pillion passenger, with a maximum of $1,000 per item if you have an accident or theft claim. InsureMyRide offers up to $5,000 of cover for riding gear, but it’s an optional extra on top of standard policies.

Advanced Rider Training Makes you a Better Rider and can Reduce your Premium

No matter how inexperienced or experienced a rider you are, taking advanced road craft courses will not only make you a better rider, it will help you out there in the concrete and asphalt jungle of suburbia. Insurance companies get that and realise that the better trained you are, the less likely you’ll have an accident and make a claim which saves them money.

Check with your insurance provider as to who they approve for you to undertake advanced courses with. Sometimes these courses will take place on a track, but often they’ll be situated at specialised training facilities and may even involve some riding on public roads.

Advanced training courses can keep you safer and save you money. Just check your insurance company recognises them beforehand.

Advanced training courses can keep you safer and save you money. Just check your insurance company recognises them beforehand.

Most of the time, insurance companies will provide discounts for training courses which are accredited by state bodies or sanctioning motorcycle organisations. According to Jim Klapthor of Allstate Insurance, riders taking part in state-approved safety courses to improve road riding would generally receive a discount on their policy.

For those in the motherland, Bennetts will offer up to 10% off premiums while Bikesure will reduce your policy cost by up to 15% but you need to check directly with them as to what courses they will acknowledge. For our antipodean readers, QBE has a list of approved training providers for each state, as does InsureMyRide. Swann even offers discounts for selected training courses should you take out a policy with them.

How to Stay Safe on Long Rides

Sometimes there’s just somewhere you want to go on your bike, even it is a long way away. And with adventure bikes and sports tourers becoming more and more popular there’s never better time to ride in comfort and relative luxury. However, riding long distances isn’t without its risks and in fact, fatigue is one of the leading causes of road fatalities. Let’s take a look at how you can stay safe on long rides.

Stop, Revive Survive

The most fundamental piece of advice any rider can be given is to take rest breaks. The generally recommended interval between rest periods is two hours. Your fuel tank might be able to get you twice that distance and maybe your bladder can too, but studies have found that after two hours your mind begins to wander excessively.

Your rest breaks don’t need to be too long, 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient. Just enough time to stretch your muscles, take in fluid and give your mind a rest from what can sometimes be the monotony of highway travel. So even if you’re travelling 600 kilometres in a single day, taking three rest stops will only add 30 to 45 minutes to your overall journey – a small sacrifice for staying alive.

stop revive surviv

Be Well Rested Before Riding

Traveling all day is tiring, especially so for motorcycle riders who are exposed to the elements. Therefore it’s essential to be well rested the day before. It’s recommended that for the two nights before you start your journey that you get at least seven and a half hours of sleep to help improve your energy reserves.

Most adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night to function optimally – and that’s just for normal everyday activities. A lack of enough sleep causes all sorts of issues, and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year. So go to bed early and maybe stay off the booze the night before.

be well rested

Take a Break After Lunch

Do you sometimes feel a bit drowsy after lunch? There’s two reasons for that. Firstly, certain types of food will make you drowsy – processed foods which are often a hallmark of what’s available at roadside stops are a prime culprit. But even unprocessed foods such as turkey and other high-protein foods, along with spinach, soy, eggs, cheese and fish can make you feel lethargic.

The second reason that you can feel tired after lunch is due to the time of day. Between 1 pm and 3 pm, your body’s temperature drops and you’ll naturally feel a little bit more sleepy than normal. So to stay safe, have lunch and then take an extended break – perhaps you can spend the time reading articles on our wonderful website.

big lunch

Keep Your Mind Active

There is a term called ‘complacency driving’ which refers to how drivers and riders often go on auto-pilot and will travel not inconsequential distances without actually remembering that time period. It’s a huge cause of fatalities on the road and while it mostly occurs when travelling a familiar route (such as to and from work), it can also occur when riding to new destinations if the road itself is monotonous such as a long straight freeway.

To overcome this, you need to forcibly keep your mind active. Some ways to do this are:

  • Read road signs out aloud in your head or better yet, verbalize them.
  • Regularly check your mirrors, ‘check’ your brakes and always use your indicators when changing lanes.
  • If there’s traffic around, constantly check your distance between the car or bike in front of you and ensure it is at least 3 seconds by counting.
  • Let out your inner superstar and sing like you’re in the shower. Don’t worry, no one is likely to hear you.

active mind

Take the Harder Route

This might sound counterintuitive and we’d only recommend it for experienced and competent riders, but an option to keep yourself stimulated is to take the road that’s more technical – one with plenty of corners and bends – instead of the boring route that’s effectively straight, flat and repetitive.

Most motorcyclists tend to do this anyway as it’s a far more rewarding experience but it also keeps your mind far more active as you constantly have to interact with the bike by braking, shifting, accelerating and steering – even moving your body around. On long stretches of highway, you’ll often just be sitting on sixth gear for hours at a time and for even the most focused of individuals it’s hard to prevent the mind from wandering.

The_old_road_winding_over_St._Gotthard_pass_(el._2106_m._or_6,909_ft.)_high_in_the_Swiss_Alps

Temperature regulation

You want to make sure you look after yourself on a long ride. Being too cold will make you feel more drowsy. Being too hot will exhaust you and bring on fatigue much, much earlier. If you’re riding in summer, a mesh jacket and textile pants with plenty of airvents is highly recommended – as is a cool vest. In the colder months, heated gloves and jackets will be of great benefit.

Time your trip

Generally speaking, most accidents occur between 3 pm to 7 pm. The reason for this is generally fatigue but also impatience and the fact that this is when the most cars are on the road – both for picking up children from school and commuting home from work.

From midnight to 4 am is when the most deaths per vehicles on the road occur thanks to an influx of drunk drivers. And both sunrise and sunset are also dangerous – vision is greatly reduced and especially so depending on which direction you’re driving should the sun be on the horizon. For these reasons, plan your trip where possible to avoid being on the road at these times.

dusk riding

Stay hydrated

A study conducted at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom found that drivers who only drank 25ml of water an hour made more than double the number of mistakes on the road than those who were hydrated – the same amount as those who have been drink driving.

Yes, drinking more water or other fluids means more toilet brakes but it’s essential to stay focused. If you’re riding in summer it’s even more important as every pound of sweat that you lose, you’ll need to drink two to three cups of water or other fluids to help your body recover.

Hydration packs are a great way to regularly take in water while riding. The simple backpack and straw system allows you to continually take in regular sips of water without the need to stop. Just about anyone who participates in off-road riding will have one and there’s no shame in utilizing one for the road, either.

hydration packs

Ensure Your Bike is Road Worthy

It should go without saying that if you’re planning on a long road trip, make sure that both you and your bike are up to the task. Basic things like tire tread depths and tire pressures should be checked before heading out, but so should brake pad wear. In fact, before going on a massive trip you really should give your bike a full service. There’s nothing worse than being stranded halfway to your destination thanks to unreliability.

 

The Frustrating State of Australian Motorcycle Laws

Over the last year or so, Australian riders residing on the eastern coast of the country have had cause to celebrate with the legalisation of lane splitting finally happening in the three most populous states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria – something that the overwhelming majority of riders in the US don’t enjoy. But with these updated laws has come a hodgepodge of differing rules that have caused confusion and frustration for motorcyclists.

The main area of frustration has been in regards to helmet laws where it is now the case that a rider taking a trip from Queensland, through New South Wales and into Victoria could theoretically require a change of helmet three times in order not to run foul of the law in the respective state. Imagine if state laws weren’t unified on the type of vehicle you could have in each jurisdiction – and yet that is the current situation in Australia.

When Queensland introduced its filtering laws, they also updated helmet laws to allow residents to ride with helmets that met ECE helmet standards and not necessarily Australian Standards. That was fantastic news and something locals were wanting for years – but it left Queensland on its own and meant that should a rider venture from the Gold Coast through to Tweed Heads wearing an ECE and not AE compliant helmet, they could be fined for effectively not wearing a helmet at all – and the $319 fine that goes with it.

Thankfully, on 6 August, the Victorian Government adopted the policy of Queensland and allowed riders to wear ECE compliant helmets as well. As of the writing of this article, New South Wales still has not done so and riders from Victoria and Queensland going to New South with ECE complaint helmets are breaking the law. This is despite even the Australian Federal Government now relaxing import laws which previously prohibited the importation of ECE helmets for sale in Australia.

So while Victoria and Queensland have started applying logic to the types of helmet that can be worn, the same can’t be said for the wearing of action cameras on helmets in the garden state.

Police Radar Gun

For many years now – even if sporadically – riders have been fined for wearing GoPro’s or similar devices on their helmets by police in New South Wales and Victoria. In March 2014, Victorian man Max Lichtenbaum was fined $289 and lost three demerit points for failing to wear an approved helmet after being pulled over by police in Frankston, in Melbourne’s south-east. His helmet was not deemed approved because in the police’s eyes, it had been modified from the Australian Standard because he had fixed a camera to it.

If that sounds ridiculous, it gets worse. Malcolm Cumming of Maurice Blackburn took the case on pro bono due to the issue becoming a major issue of frustration for motorcyclists. His argument in court was that the Australian Standard only applies to helmets at manufacture – once purchased by an individual they no longer apply. Unfortunately, Mr Lichtenbaum lost the case and with the help of Maurice Blackburn is appealing the decision which will be heard in February of 2016.

That means as it stands, if you wear a GoPro, a Bluetooth intercom device or even replace your visor with a tinted one, you are deemed to be in effect not wearing a helmet in Victoria and can be fined accordingly. The absolutely bizarre interpretation of the law makes even less sense when you travel to Queensland or Western Australia, where not only will you not be fined for wearing any such device on your helmet – the police there actively wear such devices themselves.

In those states, the respective governments have effectively adopted the view that Maurice Blackburn was arguing in Victoria – that Australian Standards only apply at the point of sale – not after. It’s altogether more frustrating when the use of cameras by motorcyclists is a key weapon in the proving of innocence in accidents.

“The repeated feedback from motorcyclists to us is there’s a marked change and improvement in driver behaviour when drivers become aware that they are, or are potentially, being recorded,” said Malcom Cumming. “In our work supporting riders injured in road accidents, we know that video from helmet cameras is some of the best evidence you can have if you are in a collision.”

Maurice Blackburn should be applauded for their work in this matter, but it’s ridiculous that they had to get involved at all. Prior to Mr Lichtenbaum losing his case, there seemed to be a sporadic enforcement of the interpretation of the law in Victoria – what happens now though is anyone’s guess.

Helmets aren’t the only issue either. For example in Queensland, riders can ride on the shoulder of roads that have a maximum speed limit of 90km/h or more as long as the rider goes no faster than 30km/h – this is a wonderful way to travel on congested highways. Yet again however, Queensland is alone in this rule and a rider could be riding along the Pacific Highway in Queensland on the shoulder and upon crossing the border now be riding illegally.

Generally speaking, most road rules reach uniformity among states over many years, so there’s hope they will eventually equalise for motorcyclists in the near future. But given the outright hostility the Victorian and sometimes New South Wales police forces have shown for riders recently, don’t hold your breath.

Victorian Police

 

Is Bultaco The Next Player In The Electric Motorcycle Game?

Is it getting crowded in here? Resurrected Spanish brand Bultaco looks set to enter the electric motorcycle game as early as next year. Last week the company launched a motorcycle/mountainbike hybrid – but that’s just a tiny taste of what could come out as early as next year.

For those following the company, Bultaco actually unveiled two concept machines in 2014 – the Rapitan and Rapitan Sport. Those concepts/prototypes both produced 53 hp, 92 lb.ft of torque and had a range of over 125 miles (200 km). That compares pretty well to the Zero S which is the benchmark for current mainstream electric motorcycles.

The heart of the bikes is a collaboration between Bultaco and MotoCzysz – an American firm which has a good history of electric motorcycle manufacturing and won the Isle of Man TT (electric class) four years in a row starting in 2010.

According to Bultaco, what sets their electric machines out from the crowd is the front suspension and their innovative regenerative braking system. The front end works similarly to BMW Motoradd’s Telelever system which assists in reducing front end dive under braking. It has the added benefit of separating braking and turning forces which is ideal when coming into corners.

Their regenerative braking system which is used to put energy back into the batteries when stopping is also (at least according to Bultaco) more efficient than competing systems. Part of this is done by stabilizing the rear wheel under braking, ensuring that as much regenerative energy is captured as possible.

It’s expected that both the Rapitan and Rapitan Sport will be available for sale in late 2016 with prices around the $13,000 mark.

 

Why The Next Motorcycle You Buy Could Be Electric

It might not seem like it now but electric motorcycles are about to get a whole lot more common. Within the next few years, every major Japanese manufacturer will have an electric motorcycle available to buy in their showrooms and the Americans and Europeans are already leading the way. Let’s take a look at what the next generation of motorcycle is going to look like.

Zero Motorcycles

Zero is currently numero uno when it comes to accessible electric motorcycles. Sure, they’re still expensive when you compare them to traditional internal combustion engine powered bikes but they’re also not ridiculously priced out of the average person’s reach either. And Zero looks like it will continue to go from strength to strength.

They recently announced the receipt of a grant from the Californian State Government and a subsequent price reduction across the range. But for alll that, Zero remains a very niche player. For that reason we wouldn’t be surprised if they were bought out in the near future. Perhaps by another American firm…

Zero Motorcycles Rolls into 2015 with Strong Momentum

Harley-Davidson

The legendary cruiser company surprised everyone with their Project Livewire concept but since the hype has died down it hasn’t looked as hot as we’d first hoped. In fact, it’s likely that Project LIvewire is years away from release with Matt Levatich, President and CEO of HD saying the following late last year:

“Its range is 50 miles, but customers are looking for 100… If the electric bike were mass-produced today it would sell for about $50,000, about 50% more than customers would want to pay”

Project Livewire also isn’t a completely in-house product. Harley-Davidson sought assistance from Mission Motorcycles on the drive train. If H-D is truly serious about entering the electric motorcycle game, they’re far better off buying an established manufacturer such as Zero instead of trying to develop the technology on their own.

Project Livewire Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council

Victory Motorcycles

Which is exactly what the parent company of Victory Motorcycles, Polaris did earlier this year. Victory purchased Brammo, Zero’s only real competitor in the ‘mass produced’ electric motorcycle game.

Victory will be entering an electric motorcycle in this weeks Isle of Man TT, indicating that they will be releasing a sportsbike based on the Brammo Empulse as early as this year. Polaris is cashed up so expect them to make a real push into the electric game. And unlike Zero, they have the resources and large dealer network for it to really happen.

BMW Motorrad

Out of all the big players, BMW was the first with an electric two-wheeler. Sure, it’s a scooter but nevertheless, BMW has the technology in place to translate that into a commercially available electric motorcycle. The BMW C Evolution scooter was released in 2013 and produces 35 kW (48 bhp) and 72 Nm of torque which provides more pace than entry level sportsbikes and quite a bit more than the average scooter.

Range is a moderate 100km which makes it adequate for city riding – something plenty of motorcycle riders could be interested in as well. While BMW Motorrad don’t have any immediate plans to release an electric motorcycle, they’ve already got more runs on the board than their competitors.

BMW Motorrad C Evolution Scooter

KTM

But BMW aren’t alone with the release of an electric two-wheeler. In fact, KTM has gone a step better with an electric powered dirt bike, the KTM Freeride E. The Freeride E has gotten nowhere near the amount of publicity it deserves – this is the first electric motorcycle from a traditional motorcycle manufacturer.

Electric dirtbikes should be more appealing than sportsbikes – one of the biggest issues with dirtbikes is the noise they produce. Countless local tracks have been closed due to urban sprawl as well as complaints from rural residents when riders (legally or illegally) take to the trails. With near silent electric powertrains, such issues vanish.

The advantages of electric dirtbikes don’t stop with (lack of) noise. The KTM Freeride E weighs only 110kg which is actually less than the fully fueled petrol powered KTM Freeride 250 R, which the Freeride E’s chassis is based on. Add to that the instantaneous 31.0 ft-lb. of torque from the get go and you have a serious off road machine. KTM is following up the initial Freeride E with an electric supermoto later this year – sure to be a huge hit.

KTM Freeride E

Yamaha

It’s a real guessing game as to which of the Japanese manufacturers will jump first, but if we were asked to put money on it we’d say it would be Yamaha. In 2013 they unveiled two concepts, the PES1 sportsbike and PED1 dirtbike. Since then, Yamaha has registered a number of patents relating to the two bikes and our sources indicate they could be released as early as next year.

The patents indicate that the batteries for the bikes will be swappable and will actually be the same design for both machines which means reduced costs of manufacture. Interestingly, buyers may be able to ‘upgrade’ their bike after purchase by installing a third battery with little to no modifications to the bike.

At the concept launch, Yamaha stated that the PES1 weighed less than 221 pounds, and the PED1 weighed less than 187 pounds. Another interesting fact is that Yamaha will employ DC motors instead of AC which all other electric manufacturers use.

Suzuki

If Yamaha does end up being the first of the Japanese producers to release an electric motorcycle then we think Suzuki might come in a close second. We reported only a few weeks ago that Suzuki had updated a number of its patents in relation to its Extrigger concept from 2013.

This Honda Grom sized bike was first shown off in concept form and now Suzuki, like it’s doing with its Suzuki Recursion concept, is filing numerous patents in relation to the machine. While not guaranteed, it usually means that the company has plans on bringing the concepts to production.

And if any manufacturer needs to do something interesting, it’s Suzuki.

Kawasaki

The green machine have shown that they’re not shy when it comes to using different technologies as the supercharged Ninja H2 and H2R clearly displayed. Kawasaki have filed numerous patents over the years relating to electric powered Ninjas, including ones where batteries can be easily swapped out.

But perhaps even more telling was that earlier this year, Kawasaki registered a number of trademarks in Europe, the US and Japan for machines called the Ninja E2 and E2-R with conjecture being the E stands for ‘Electric’.

That said, we believe that Kawasaki will remain focused on its forced induction technology for now which provides both reductions in fuel consumption and emissions- a big part of the reason for going down the alternative energy route to begin with.

Tesla

This one is out of left field, but we’re not the first to venture the idea that Tesla may get into the electric motorcycle game. They most certainly are at the forefront of the electric car industry and it wouldn’t be a difficult step to cross the bridge into battery powered motorcycles.

That said, most industry observers think it unlikely that Tesla will enter into the motorcycle game. Tesla is still a low volume, high margin business with their cheapest car costing $57,500. There’s enough demand in the car industry for such priced vehicles, but expensive motorcycles are niche items at best.

Regardless of what Tesla ends up doing, the electric motorcycle landscape is going to drastically change over the next few years and for the better. And the more competition in the sector, the quicker prices will drop and the faster the improvement in range will occur.

How Motorcycle Riding Is Good For Your Health

You’ve probably heard the saying that you  never see a motorcycle parked outside a psychiatrist’s office. That saying is actually a true reflection of reality – motorcycle riding is good for your health, both mentally and physically. In this article, we back that claim up with a look at some scientific studies that give credence to this, both for your waistline and your state of mind.

Let’s look at the brain first. There have actually been a number of studies on the cognitive benefits of motorcycle riding. The best known study in this field was by the Ryuta Kawashima Laboratory of the Department of Functional Brain Imaging, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer at Tohoku University. Its results were as follows:

  • When riding a motorcycle, the brain of the rider is stimulated.
  • Differences in brain use and level of brain stimulation can be observed in motorcyclists who ride regularly and in motorcyclists who have not ridden for extended periods (at least 10 years).
  • Incorporating motorcycle riding into daily life improves various cognitive functions (particularly prefrontal cortex functions) and has positive effects on mental and emotional health such as stress reduction.

Why-Motorcycle-Riding-is-Good-For-You

The study looked at two groups of people – riders who regularly rode to work each day and those that did not. It found that for the riders, the right hemisphere of their prefrontal lobe was activated while riding, demonstrating higher levels of concentration. Then the ‘ex-riders’ were tasked with riding regularly over a number of months. The result?

Cognitive functions, especially those relating to memory and spatial reasoning capacity increased dramatically. Those riders also stated that their stress levels had been reduced markedly and mentally they felt much more positive.

Dr Ryuta Kawashima explained these results: “There were many studies done on driving cars in the past. A car is a comfortable machine which does not activate our brains. It only happens when going across a railway crossing or when a person jumps in front of us. By using motorcycles more in our life, we can have positive effects on our brains and minds”.

Anecdotally we could probably all agree with this from our own experiences. Motorcycle riding affords a real freedom that many other pursuits cannot. Being able to reduce stress by going for a ride in the canyons, or even because a rider can filter through gridlocked traffic add to this. The well known book ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ paints a picture of this too.

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We opined about this in our article, I Ride a Motorcycle, Therefore I am Better Than You last year:

I see other riders doing the amazing, the beautiful. Riding through Egypt, Nepal, the Andes, visiting remote and distance parts of this amazing planet. But instead, you enjoy your cruise on a boat full of self-absorbed people who think learning about and understanding other cultures involves a day trip to their local beach.

Even the worst things of modern life turn into positives on a motorcycle. While you’re stuck in traffic on the freeway doing your daily two hour commute, I’m riding past you between your car and every other person who feels the need to drive a five occupant vehicle with just themselves to their daily grind.

The good news however is that the benefits of motorcycle riding aren’t limited to our minds. It might help lower your cholesterol levels too.

Even on a casual ride, you burn calories while riding a motorcycle. Firstly, being exposed to buffeting winds and natures other elements means you use your muscles far more than in a car – it also has the added side effect of increasing muscle strength as you tense and flex. But you’re also burning calories from the varied and involved control inputs of the bike, such as balancing at low speeds, cornering and even braking.

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And just like your fuel tank, the faster you go the faster you burn energy. If your carving through the canyons and riding the bike correctly (by putting all your weight through your legs into the pegs and not the bars) you’ll actually give yourself quite a workout. Anyone that does infrequent track days will tell you that a 15 minute session is generally plenty of time for you to work up a sweat and require a rest. It’s estimated that riding a motorcycle burns between 200 and 300 calories an hour – that’s about as much as a leisurely walk would burn.

Head off-road though and you’ll start to seriously lose some weight. A Canadian study showed that off-road motorcycle riders are less likely to have physical limitations or health problems compared to the general population. The study, by Dr Jamie Burr found that regular trail riding is an effective way to lose fat and gain muscle, increase endurance and lower blood pressure.

When you analyse the biomechanics of trails riding, it’s easy to see why. In an interview, Dr Burr wrote that exertion of off-road riding is “Similar to the effects of jogging and it is a lot like hitting the gym.  Balancing on off-road motorcycles is like sitting on a stability ball, controlling the handlebars is like doing bench presses and seated rows or upright rows. Standing up and down would be like squats or deep knee bends. Standing on the pegs is like doing toe raises”.

For those that do hit the trails, it’s estimated that the body’s energy consumption is as high as 600 calories an hour.

So next time you need to go on a health kick, don’t worry about the gym membership. Instead, sell the treadmill sitting in your garage and replace it with another bike. Because having two bikes is surely better for your health than just one.

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Cars Out, Motorcyles In For Melbourne CBD

In a bold move to prove that the phrase ‘intelligent and progressive politician’ isn’t an oxymoron, the Melbourne City Council will give motorcycles and scooters preferential treatment over cars and trucks in the Melbourne CBD as part of a new plan to reduce traffic and parking congestion in Australia’s second largest city.

Not only will the plan assist riders to more easily find parking when working or shopping in the city, but the council hopes that such perks will encourage more people to ride into work rather than drive. Perks include removing paid street parking spaces for cars and replacing with free motorcycle parking and continuing to allow motorcycles to park on footpaths.

The Melbourne City Council also intends on using its planning powers to force developers of new offices towers and residential apartments to create more motorcycle parking and supply lockers to riders to place their protective gear in. The legislation, titled the 2015-2018 Motorcycle Plan will by voted on by councilors next week and is expected to pass.

The council said that a “shift from cars to motorcycles” would free up parking space, as up to up to six motorcycles or 10 scooters can be parked in the space required for a single car. The plan has the strong support of the Victorian Motorcycle Council (VMC) and the Independent Riders’ Group whose spokesman Steve Bardsley said while he believed there was a place for all types of transport, “it has to be acknowledged that cars are the main cause of congestion”.

As this site has stated before, we believe policies such as this will begin to become the norm rather than the rule due to the economic climate most western nations are faced with. Governments no longer have the budgets to continually expand road and public transportation networks. Legalising lane splitting and implementing other policies that encourage people to ride rather than drive is a virtually free way to reduce congestion.

This is backed up a study from Belgium which showed that if only 10 per cent of private cars were replaced by motorcycles, commute times in peak hour could decrease by up to 40 per cent. The economic and social benefits are enormous.

Source: The Age

Cars Out, Bikes In For Melbourne CBD