Monster Energy, one of the key sponsors of the Yamaha MotoGP team, has produced a five part series on nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi. “Valentino Rossi: The Doctor” gives an intriguing insight into the life of one of the sport’s greatest ever riders through interviews with the man himself, former competitors, team members and friends. The first three episodes have been released through Monster Energy’s YouTube channel, with the final two to be released soon. Episode 1 looks at Valentino himself, his upbringing in the quiet town of Tavullia, and what made him the MotoGP icon and successful businessman that he is today. In Episode 2 we travel to Mugello, the scene of one of the most intense, emotional and important Grands Prix on the MotoGP calendar for Valentino and we get to watch Valentino during his home Grand Prix. The third instalment takes us to “The Ranch”, Valentino’s private facility just outside his hometown of Tavullia that is a source of inspiration, motivation and high-speed adrenaline for Valentino. It’s also the place he trains other riders. Each episode is around 10 minutes long, and you can watch the whole series right here. Monster Energy have been releasing an episode every three weeks, so check back regularly for the next two episodes.
It hasn’t been available for long, but the 2016 Ducati XDiavel S has been recalled for a possible assembly fault with the rear wheel. Ducati has advised it’s possible the rear wheel rim might have been installed in the wrong way, with the 4 rear wheel shaft driving pins inserted in the slots rather than in the 4 relevant holes. If the wheel rim has been installed incorrectly it may result in noise from the rear wheel, and possible loss of traction of the vehicle during use. This could then pose a crash hazard to the rider and other road users. Owners are being told they should contact an authorised Ducati Dealership to arrange inspection and repairs. Also being recalled is the 2014 model 1199 Superleggera for a potential clutch issue. A possible fault in the clutch assembly could cause one of the clutch components to break, increasing the risk of rear wheel lock up while riding. Ducati has contacted owners directly on this recall and has instructed them to contact their nearest Ducati authorised dealer for repair.
A couple of weeks ago Kawasaki announced the beautiful retro-styled W800 will end its model run in Europe this year, going out with a special model appropriately called the “Final Edition”. Yamaha has now announced it is dropping the XT660Z Tenere and XJR1300, certainly in Europe anyway. All three models are casualties of the tough new Euro 4 emissions standards in Europe. The new laws took effect this year, and all new models must meet those standards now. Existing models, like the ones we’re seeing dropped, have to meet those standards from the beginning of next year. But for some existing models, that’s just not possible. Euro 4 not only sets tough limits for exhaust emissions from the engine when it’s running, but also for the amount of fuel that escapes from the tank through the venting system. Fuel vapours contain far more unburned hydrocarbons than exhaust gas, and the most common way of reducing the amount of vapours escaping is to feed the venting tube into a carbon filled canister. Once the engine is started again the vapours are drawn back into the fuel system which creates issues for the engine management system. Although it sounds like a simple solution, this can be mean major – and costly – modifications to the engine design. Another issue is that Euro 4 requires that the bike has on-board diagnostics to measure it’s own emissions and provide fault-finding capabilities for technicians. And finally the manufacturers have to prove their engines will still meet the emissions standards after 20,000km. So for some existing models that’s a big and expensive task, and it’s just not economically viable. For others, making them Euro 4 compliant is simply impossible. Most of the existing air-cooled bikes like the FJR1300 will never come close to being Euro 4 compliant. So what does all this mean to us? Well firstly we’re seeing the biggest reshuffle of models in many years, and as the year goes on we can expect more announcements about which bikes won’t be sold into Europe any more. But with that will come a range of new models. There’s already rumours that the XT660Z Tenere will be replaced by an MT-07 engined adventure bike. For Australia, the future’s a little bit more confusing at the moment. Our emissions regulations aren’t as tough as the European standards, so no changes need to be made to existing models for them to continue to be sold here. Milo Dokmanovic, Marketing Assistant at Kawasaki in Australia, has said that “the current model of the W800 will continue to be available here in Australia, but that Kawasaki cannot comment on the prospect of new models at this stage”. Communications Manager for Yamaha Motor Australia, Sean Goldhawk, is saying similar things certainly about the XJR1300 which is built in Japan. Sean told us today that the XJR1300 and the XT660Z Tenere will be available here for the foreseeable future. Looking ahead, as long as the manufacturers can see value in continuing production of the bikes they are dropping in Europe nothing will change for Australia. But we could also expect, and hope, that the manufacturers see value in bringing us the new replacements that are going into Europe as well.
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The announcement earlier this week that Indian Motorcycle is planning a return to the AMA Pro Flat Track Racing scene suggests a lot more than first meets the eye. Only two weeks after Harley-Davidson showed off its new XG750R Flat Track Racer, Indian has announced it will also be returning to the racing series. The company has not had a full-factory racing effort since the 1950s. Indian Motorcycle Racing will use a proprietary new liquid-cooled 750cc V-Twin competition engine specifically designed for flat track and engineered into a specially built chassis. But will these new 750cc engines lead to a whole new range of production motorcycles? Or will the engines remain as specially built units just for racing? Either way it points to an increase in the emphasis both manufacturers are placing on their racing efforts, and history suggests that regardless of whether it means new machines there will certainly be developments that will find their way into our production machines. President of Motorcycles for Polaris Industries, Steve Menneto, reinforced the importance the company is placing on its return to racing. “We are very excited to return to the AMA Circuit,” he says. “We have established the new Indian Chief and Scout series as the cornerstones of our production line-up, and now is the time for us to return to racing in a big way.” AMA Pro Flat Track racing is highly competitive and has evolved into a demanding, technical and specialised event, and at one stage Indian Motorcycle dominated the sport with legendary riders and motorcycles. Probably best-known was the Indian Motorcycle Wrecking Crew – Bill Tuman, Bobby Hill and Ernie Beckman – who decimated the competition from the late 40’s to mid 50’s. The new Indian Flat Track racer will be ridden by multi-time AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees, who has joined the Indian Motorcycle Racing Team as a test rider for 2016.
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Kawasaki’s own Team 38 is hoping to find out just how fast a Ninja H2R can go when it takes one to the 2016 Bonneville Speed Week event. The team had planned on running the bike at Bonneville last year but because water had submerged part of the course, the event had to be cancelled. The team took the bike to the “Mojave Mile” event instead, and although the bike reached a top speed of 348.2 km/h, they felt the limited distance at Mojave wasn’t enough to really show off the machine’s ground-breaking speed. This year the Bonneville Speed Week course will be 8 km long, and with considerably more distance to accelerate than the Mojave Mile course it should give the Ninja H2R a chance to show its full capabilities. The bike has a standard H2R engine (243 kW) but has modifications to the chassis and bodywork. The front fairing has been modified to make it a fully flat surface, it has an oversized front fender and the upper and lower wings have been removed. It also has a modified chain cover to meet event regulations, a modified rear sprocket and aftermarket Dunlop Sportmax GP-A Pro tyres. The bike has been prepared by Team 38, Kawasaki’s own “in-house” race team. Team 38 began when a group of like-minded Kawasaki employees and test riders got together to form a privateer racing team in 1975. The team’s name came from the place where the employees worked – the Experimental Technology Department’s building, Number 38, at the Kawasaki Heavy Industries Akashi Works plant. The team’s rider is 46 year old Shigeru Yamashita. He was hired by Kawasaki Heavy Industries as a test rider in the Experimental Technology Department in 1989. He now has 27 years experience as a test rider, and has entered the prestigious Suzuka 8-Hour Endurance Race nine times. Bonneville Speed Week is the world’s most well-known and influential top-speed contest, and is held on a massive dry salt lake in Utah. This year’s event will take place from 13th to 19th August.
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