Archive for February, 2009

Dainese D-air Suit Making Headlines … Again

February 27, 2009

Dainese has been making headlines this week with its D-air Racing airbag suit. Of course, many of us who follow motorcycle racing and related parts, garments and accessories first saw the suit in action in 2007, when Dainese-sponsored 250cc MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli high-sided during practice in Valencia.d_air

The D-air Racing suit is the product of more than 10 years of study and experiments by D-Tec, the Dainese R&D department.

As the name suggests, the D-air is a suit that incorporates a system of airbags to protect a rider’s body in areas that conventional protections leave exposed: shoulders, collarbones and neck. The entire system is contained in an attachment on the rider’s shoulders and back, which takes the place of the traditional “hump.”  And, unlike the Hit-Air apparel made by Mugen Denko, the D-air Racing airbags are triggered not by a coiled wire but when the rider leaves the bike at a certain velocity.

Check out the video:

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Squashing the KTM Rumor Mill

February 26, 2009

Austrian firm KTM says it is preparing to launch a hardtop X-Bow and “green” off-road four-wheeled vehicle. It’d make sense, but a glimpse at the OEM’s financials don’t show much room for the production of such units.

KTM ended its 2007/2008 business year Aug. 31 with sales of 92,385 motorcycles, up from 90,306 units sold during the 2006/2007 business year. Car sales numbered about 100 units.ktm_xbow_cross1

While recent year-end revenues were €605.7 million (about $776.9 million), up 7 percent from €566.1 million in the prior year, a drop in the U.S. dollar exchange rate to the euro brought earnings down 49.4 percent from the comparable period, to €20.1 million (about $25.8 million).

Then, in November, feeling the pinch of the global economic slowdown, the OEM announced a plan to cut motorcycle production by 10 percent and lay (more…)

Dealer Expo Comments; Extra Product Coverage

February 25, 2009

This year’s Dealer Expo was different. First of all, about 40 percent of booths were in the brand-new Lucas Oil Stadium, a few blocks away from the rest the show in the Indiana Convention Center. Luckily, decent weather made the walk bearable for those of us who chose not to use the free shuttle service. I hear underground walkways will be available for the 2011 show.

My editorial duties didn’t allow me to examine the stadium much, but several people told me they loved the building itself. I didn’t hear any complaints about the splitting of the show.

Advanstar Communications, our owner, hasn’t released attendance figures, but the traffic did not seem much different from previous years. Most vendors told me that the number of booth visits was down, but that more serious buyers were stopping by. General managers and owners seemed to be walking the aisles in a greater concentration.

This makes sense. Many dealership principals likely couldn’t pay to send employees this year. And owners are keeping a tighter grip on the purse (more…)

CIECA Opens Competition for Riding Instructors

February 25, 2009

Are you a riding instructor with an idea of how to improve training procedures? Want to win a scooter or a trip to MV Agusta, a MotoGP event or a World Superbike event?

If so, the International Commission of Driver and Rider Testing Authorities (CIECA) has launched a worldwide competition to collect examples of the best rider training exercises. Together with its partnerscieca ACEM, FIM and FEMA, CIECA invites riding instructors to submit rider training exercises related to the ten most frequent accident causes for powered two-wheelers.

Visit the ACEM website and fill out a questionnaire with your proposed rider training exercise and return the questionnaire by March 22. You could win:

Grand Prize: A Suzuki SIXteen 150cc scooter
First Prize: A guided tour around the MV AGUSTA factory in Varese, Italy (travel included)
Second Prize: 2 tickets to the MotoGP event of your choice
Third Prize: 2 tickets to the World Superbike event of your choice

Study: Updated Roads Would Help Protect Cyclists

February 25, 2009

A study recently completed in Germany indicates that the estimated 313 million motorcycle and scooter

The city government in Elk River, MN calls this a pothole.

The city government in Elk River, MN calls this a pothole.

riders around the world would be made safer if governments improved the design and condition of roadways.

Following an analysis of fatal accidents on Germanys road network, Professor Juergen Follmann of the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt came to the conclusion that motorcycle safety often is linked to the conditions of the road infrastructure.

I can vouch for that. Here in Minnesota, where roads heave and crack under severe temperatures, motorcycling early in the springtime carries a great amount of risk. If you’re not dodging six-inch-deep potholes or crumbling expansion joints, you’re plowing through tar or slipping on rubberized sealants. Not exactly what you want to be doing while traversing a cloverleaf.

Then there’s the issue of highway barriers, or crash barriers. I have a friend who, while traversing a

Affixing a similar sized steel strip to the bottom of this barrier may reduce injuries and death.

Affixing a similar sized steel strip to the bottom of this barrier may reduce injuries and death.

double apex curve, lost the rear end and slid into the barrier, wedging both he and the bike between the corrugated steel barrier and the roadway. In an instance such as that, both the corrugated steel barrier and the posts supporting the barrier cause greater harm than good to a downed motorcyclist. The solution: affixing two corrugated barriers, one on top of the other.

There has been much written about the relationship between roadway infrastructure and motorcyclist safety. Here are a few of the many links worth perusing about the subject:
European Agenda for Motorcycle Safety

Austrialia Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Dealer Expo From the Inside Out

February 25, 2009

Because we can’t seem to get enough Robert Pandya around this place here is a video of him cruising Dealer Expo 2009, jawing with various industry movers and shakers about current economic issues. From Pandya:

What we found was an optimistic industry that is adjusting for some changing times. Looks like dealers and companies paying close attention to the marketplace are adapting to the conditions and positioning themselves for success in the future.

And heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee’ssssssssssss Robert:



The Many Faces of the Lead Content Fiasco

February 25, 2009

The Motorcycle Industry Council is on a forward push to get word out about the child ATV/Motorcycle ban and its devastating impact on the industry. MIC general counsel Paul Vitrano has appeared in just about all press accounts that I’ve read about the unintended consequences of the new lead content regulations.

Now, the MIC has posted a series of videos on YouTube featuring interviews with folks across the powersports spectrum explaining what all this means to their business. With no further ado here are a couple, starting with Scorpion Sport’s Eric Anderson:

And Randy Hawkins, seven time AMA National Enduro Champion:

And Jeff Fredette, AMA Hall of Famer and ISDE legend:

Congress, CPSC Aren’t Working Together

February 25, 2009

Finger Pointing Isn’t Solving the Problem

It’s been 14 days since kid’s ATVs, motorcycles and related gear were unfairly banned from sale in the U.S., and there doesn’t seem to be a solution in sight. Why not? Isn’t that a reasonable question?

It seems, from my perspective, that we have two Washington heavyweights fighting for control of a piece of turf, while consumers, retailers and manufacturers are inconvenienced, endangered and losing money, to boot.

Look at consumers. We have youngsters who can’t buy an ATV or dirt bike that fits them, a very dangerous situation that pushes them into riding larger, powerful machines designed for adults. At the same time, we have children riding ATVs and dirt bikes that can’t be repaired because parts for these machines can’t be sold.

(more…)

ATV Ban Could Cost $1 Billion This Year

February 24, 2009

That’s About $3 Million Every Day the Ban Continues

Here’s a nice round number that the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) might want to think about when it considers whether or not to drop the ban on kid’s ATVs and motorcycles: $1 billion.

That’s one estimate of the impact on the powersports industry if the ban were to last throughout 2009. It was put together by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), the industry trade group based in Irvine, Calif.

“The potential losses for the powersports industry are massive at a time when this country cannot afford additional economic losses,” says Paul Vitrano, general counsel for MIC and its partner organization the SVIA (Specialty Vehicle Institute of America). “With these vehicles sitting in warehouses instead of on showroom floors, the related sales of most protective gear, accessories, and parts and services are virtually non-existent. Thousands of small businesses across America are impacted by this ban.”

(more…)

Utah Committee Approves New Helmet Legislation

February 24, 2009

A legislative committee in Utah has approved a bill that would reward motorcycle riders for wearing helmets.

While the House Transportation Committee tabled a bill that would have required riders under age 21 to wear helmets, a bill sponsored by Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove, R-Garland allows motorcyclists cited for traffic violations to have $10 knocked off the fine if they were wearing a helmet.

Currently, anyone under age 18 in Utah is required to wear a helmet while riding.