Tag

motorcycle Archives — Bikernet Blog - Online Biker Magazine

Motorcycle racing in Asia is growing at unrivaled pace

By | General Posts

by Renato Marques from https://macaudailytimes.com.mo

The first-ever person of Portuguese nationality to hold the position, Jorge Viegas has served as president of the global governing and sanctioning body of motorcycle racing, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), for just over a year now.

In an exclusive interview with the Times last week, Viegas shared his opinions on the development of the sport in Asia and worldwide, speaking also about the ambitions of his presidency. He also offered some advice to Macau motorcycling event organizers, while stressing again that his organization has no jurisdiction over the annual event, part of the Macau Grand Prix.

After one year at the helm of the FIM, Viegas remarked on his success in making the organization more democratic and more transparent. He also claimed victory in his goal to give more importance to the constituent FIM committees, which he said had been “totally left out of decisions” in the past.

“I am very pleased that I [accomplished] a small ‘revolution’ at the FIM at the internal level,” he said. “That was one of my goals and it was achieved.”

Opening the FIM to the world had debunked the impression that the FIM was just “a bunch of old guys that liked to travel.”
“I have been opening the doors of the FIM to the outside and have started to collaborate a lot more with the promoters. Next month, we will, for the first time, host a plenary meeting with all the committees with the presence of journalists. This has never happened before. I want to show what the FIM does.”

“One of the first measures I took was to hold a press conference that took place at Losail during Qatar GP last year, in which I presented everyone from the FIM side that works in a Grand Prix, asking them to explain who they are and what their job duties are.”
“Without going into too much detail, I would say that I managed to bring the FIM closer to the national federations,” said Viegas.
Coming up, more reform is expected, especially in the categories of “Superbikes” and “Endurance”. The president promised that new measures to improve these categories will be announced soon, even as early as this year.

His ultimate goal remains greater engagement of the youth in motorcycle racing, all while ensuring the safety of the sport. Building on his mandate, Viegas reiterated that “every youngster, independent of gender and financial capacity, if they have the talent, passion, and motivation, [ought to be able to] compete in motorcycle racing.” At the same time, the sport must be “as safe as possible,” because only in this way can we “convince parents to let the youth participate in the sport.”

‘Unrivaled’ growth in Asia

For Viegas, “the development of motorcycling in Asia is unrivaled worldwide.”

The Asian continent is the fastest-growing region of the world when it comes to motorcycle racing, and yet its popularity is still far from peaking, he said. The FIM president recalled how the organization began with 16 national and regional federations across Asia. Today, that number has almost doubled, with 28 already accounted for and another three joining the FIM soon.

This trend is perhaps unsurprising given that, in the words of Viegas, “Asia is the most popular continent for motorcycles and where the most are circulating in the streets.”

The president is also impressed with how upbeat everyone in Asia is about the sport.

Addressing the inclusion of a new race in the MotoGP to be held on the island of Lombok, Indonesia in March 2021, Viegas remarked, “the works to build this circuit have just started and [the promoters] have already sold about 30,000 seats for the event.”
The sport is also popular elsewhere in Asia, where circuit racing championships are well-entrenched, according to the FIM president.
However, the continent suffers from a major drawback: its size. As a large and diverse continent, Asia presents a challenge in high traveling costs.

“For example, a rider going racing from China to Japan faces very high expenses,” offered Viegas, referring to transportation and logistics costs. For this reason, FIM tries to financially support the Asian Federation, so that it is possible to maintain competitive championships.

Return to China only a ‘matter of time’

Notably absent from the countries hosting major motorcycle racing events is China, leading some to speculate about disagreement between the organizers and the Chinese government. Viegas was quick to dismiss the idea of any ill feeling between the FIM, the promoters and the Chinese government.

“There is no problem with China,” he told the Times. “I believe that if they want to host an event, they can do it.”

Although there is currently no circuit in China homologated to the standards of hosting any major competitions, “if they want to, they can do that easily,” said Viegas. “It is just a matter of will and making a few works on the [existing] circuits or even building a new one.”

“I was with the Chinese authorities a few months ago and they told me that they wanted to have MotoGP back in China,” he continued. This comes as China has been pursuing other kinds of motorcycle racing categories, such as Motocross. The debut of the FIM Motocross World Championship took place in Shanghai last year, and is set to return this year.

But a return of the MotoGP is not likely within the next few years, according to the FIM president.

“We have a lot more demand than we can satisfy,” explained Viegas. “There are a lot of countries wanting to host MotoGP. This year we already expanded the championship to 20 races, and in upcoming years we can likely grow to [a maximum of] 22, which is enormous.”

Macau Grand Prix needs to review safety

Although the FIM has no jurisdiction over the motorcycle race held during the Macau Grand Prix event, the Times solicited Viegas’s views and insights on the race.

The FIM veteran, who served a number of roles at the organization prior to becoming its president, immediately suggested two logistical improvements that local organizers could adopt.

“There is one thing that the organizers can do to improve the race, which is not running motorcycle events after car events,” he said, highlighting that after a series of car races, track surface conditions may not be ideal. He also mentioned that the light and visibility conditions late in the afternoon can also be challenging for racers and present added logistical complications with race restarts.

“I think this is the minimum that organizers could do because this will improve a lot of the conditions,” said Viegas.

On a more positive note, the FIM president remarked on the “good choices” made by local organizers in “bringing in riders with a lot of experience and progressively investing in the active safety systems.”

“In the future, we hope the riders will all wear racing suits with an airbag system incorporated as well as FIM homologated helmets,” said Viegas, adding that these additional safety features have been designed to minimize the risk to racers.

For the president of FIM, the only safety issue with the Guia Circuit is the lack of run-off areas.

“The problem of Macau [street circuit] is very simple; there are no run-off areas, that’s all. There are no other problems. This is a circuit designed to host car races, the motorcycles are a complementary race that the spectators enjoy. I just think we should do all that is possible to increase the safety of the event,” he said.

A solution commonly used by the FIM on permanent racing circuits that do not possess enough run-off space is so-called “air fences”- soft-wall safety barriers, which are inflated to cushion impact from riders on otherwise rigid structures.

“When we cannot have run-off areas with the length we need, the circuit must install an air fence and we have seen riders reaching them even in areas with a lot of space,” he explained.

“Here in Macau, it would be needed obviously but again, we are not the entity that controls the safety conditions in Macau. What I wish is that there will be no more serious incidents here.”

Several recent incidents in the motorcycle racing component of the Macau Grand Prix have raised safety concerns once again among race organizers and the general population of the city. In 2017, motorcyclist Daniel Hegarty died in a crash at the Fisherman’s Bend after losing control of his bike. A major crash last year left three riders hospitalized and saw the race red flagged.

“We understand that there are riders specialized in this type of race [road racing] and they are highly experienced as well as highly aware of the risks they are taking. But what I can say is that it’s not this kind of race that the FIM encourages,” Viegas said. “This is not a circuit homologated by the FIM and it can never be, because it cannot fully meet optimal safety conditions.”

Nevertheless, the official recognizes that events like the Macau Grand Prix and the Isle of Manx TT have a long tradition with some races going back to over a century.

“It’s not under FIM competences to say anything against them,” he said. “As for the [Macau] race, it’s great entertainment and the people love it and the riders love it too.”

The global energy problem

Globally, another major challenge is the need to follow the world trend in “energy transition,” according to Viegas, which will necessitate swapping petrol-powered engines to electricity-powered motors.

“This is something that concerns us and that we are working on together with the promoters and manufacturers,” Viegas said, explaining that on motorcycles this swap will be more difficult than on cars as the current batteries are very heavy and very big, making the batteries appropriate for a racing motorcycle not capable of managing great distances.

For the time being, the Moto-E category part of the complementary program of MotoGP in some European circuits only can feature six-lap racing events.

“But as we know, this technology is developing very fast. When the batteries can be of a longer range and become lighter, I am sure we will see some great leaps forward.”

Motorcycle taxis and inclusive mobility

By | General Posts

from https://www.rappler.com

The online platform industry – which is easy to enter, is relatively inexpensive, and is clearly innovative – is simply for now, difficult to regulate

In our view, there is enough ambiguity in the law that allows for a provisional framework in regulating motorcycle taxis. A similar approach was used in dealing with Uber and Grab when they began operating in the Philippines. Even without a law, the LTFRB established a system to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) and Transportation Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) that continues to be the regulatory framework for that type of service today. The emergence of motorcycle taxis in the past few years has created a lot of debate. Replete with controversies, the motorcycle taxi business has battled car owners and drivers, law enforcers, and regulators. Some argue that it is prohibited by law as Republic Act No. 4136 or the Land and Traffic Code specifically excludes two-wheeled motor vehicles as allowable public transportation; others believe it has become the most viable option for segments of the riding public seeking out a good, reliable, and (relatively) inexpensive transport system.

It is of course urgent for Congress to enact a law on motorcycle taxis. We have had enough experience to come up with good regulations. Although there are currently 9 pending bills in Congress as of this writing, in the meantime, the government must regulate pending legislation.

Regulation absent legislation

As a middle ground for pending legalization of motorcycle taxis, a pilot run was allowed (but limited geographically to Metro Manila and Metro Cebu and extended through March 23, 2020) by the Inter-agency Technical Working Group (TWG) created to monitor the current stream of motorcycle taxi operations. The TWG’s tasks are to set regulatory guidelines to ensure safety and security, ensure compliance of data sharing, general monitoring and evaluation, price regulation, setting of vehicle specifications and operational requirements, and to provide a final report to the DOTr and the House of Representatives, to aid the latter in its future and potential legislative actions. The same TWG, moreover, has now allowed two new players, JoyRide and Move It, to join the current industry player, Angkas.

The regulatory guidelines released last December 19, 2019, is the working document which the pilot run for motorcycle taxis is based on. This document, however, does not contain the ride-capping mechanism imposed by the LTFRB. Section 11 of the document included operational requirements imposed upon the ride-hailing platforms. It included that (1) all bookings shall only be made within and via the app platform; (2) accident insurance should be secured on par with or above Passenger Personal Accident Insurance Program (PPAIP) rates; (3) a comprehensive safety campaign should be conducted for the public so that all passengers become knowledgeable; (4) existing motorcycle units with OR/CR as of December1, 2019 shall be allowed to be included in the pilot implementation; and (5) “one motorcycle-one rider” must strictly be observed in the implementation. Participating Riders shall be registered to one ride hailing platform only. The last statement is deemed problematic.

Competition vis-à-vis regulation

The new and current players are capped at 39,000 registered bikers – or a limit of about 10,000 bikers per transport network company (TNC) in Metro Manila and 3,000 in Metro Cebu. Angkas strongly opposed this cap as their registration is at the 27,000-mark as of late December 2019. Thus, to impose the price cap means 17,000 of its riders can lose their means of livelihood. As a remedy, it has asked the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the policy. This was granted as the court had said that the policy “puts a cap on the number of bikers that Angkas is entitled to” and enjoined the respondents “from performing any act that limits and impairs their rights to deal with and continue with their contracts with Angkas.” This TRO was only valid for 72 hours.

In a similar fashion, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has, through one of its commissioners, stated that “forcing Angkas to displace 17,000 riders will take away what was rightfully obtained by the company” and appealed to the LTFRB to consider other solutions such as to allow riders to use more than one ride-hailing app.

It is in this very precept that the entry cap imposed shows that the LTFRB regulation is anti-competitive. The regulator’s perspective in this regard,looks to defend its policy of preventing Angkas from becoming monopolistic in nature. However, anti-competitive conduct does not rely solely on how big or how dominant a particular business/company has become; but rather also looks at the interplay of other factors surrounding the circumstances of the industry. Competition authorities all over the world have allowed individual riders/drivers multiple registration in the different ride-hailing platforms (driver/operator non-exclusivity clause) as a solution for competition rather than to restrict. A fundamental concept of competition, after all, is not to restrict entry but to open the market as freely as possible to allow small and big players alike to participate in the market.

It can be conceded that anti-competitive conduct may be affected when unfair individual fare pricing affects the industry as a whole. As an illustration, surge pricing has been disallowed and specifically included in the regulatory guidelines of the LTFRB. This also makes fare prices fixed a justified regulatory intervention. Likewise, it is also not a displaced fear that Angkas might take control because of its first-mover advantage and more commercially popular reputation in the motorcycle taxi market, which can greatly affect consumer welfare in the long term. Look at how Grab has emerged in the TNC market.

Moreover, the ongoing debate on the seemingly overlapping competition and regulatory issue does not end today. In fact, in many parts of the world, the ride-hailing platforms and similar digital platforms which disrupt different sectors (not limited to transportation alone), are being declared illegal due to industry concerns of “virtual monopoly,” tax arbitrage, surge pricing violations, and labor issues. Some of these issues are not even anti-competitive conduct per se but can be considered more as regulatory setbacks.

We stop at this rider cap issue for now but there lies the bigger problem we might face in the next few years. The online platform industry – which is easy to enter, is relatively inexpensive, and is clearly innovative – is simply for now, difficult to regulate. Joseph Schumpeter is right to think of “creative destruction.” That is precisely what ride hailing platforms has become in the transport industry. Now transportation has to battle the bigger issue of safety and mobility. Do ride-hailing platforms for motorcycles, specifically provide safe mobility for people?

There is a clear pathway so that motorcycle taxis can be mainstreamed into our public transport system

The poor mass transportation system in the Philippines has brought about evident consequences to the traffic and commute situation in the Philippines. This is exacerbated by the car-riding culture that has been inculcated because of the sheer lack (or absence) of proper safe systems for pedestrians and commuters. A safe system does not only include the infrastructure of trains, buses, jeepneys, etc, or the physical infrastructure of roads and engineering systems, but includes the whole spectrum of pedestrian walkways, measured distances of public transport stops, road signs, information mechanisms for traffic flow, and sound policy of implementation and enforcement (see the failure of the PUV modernization policy). This deficiency in a safe system approach to transport has birthed the demand for an alternative form of transportation, that is, motorcycles; and corollarily, as a form of public transport, in the guise of motorcycle taxis.

Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported evidence that motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable road users (VRUs), along with the pedestrians and cyclists. More than half (54%) of all road traffic deaths are among these VRUs. These vehicles are a significant contributor to deaths and injuries by reason of their large number on the roads, their sharing of the roads with bigger vehicles such as cars and buses, and their innate vulnerability for crash impacts because of the absence of a protective shell present in other types of vehicles. This vulnerability is further augmented by the behaviour of riders on the road such as “zigzagging,” lane filtering, and other unique capacities of motorcycling on the roads. Thus, in the Philippine context, where motorcycles are voluminous, the question of safety when riding a motorcycle is addressed through the enactment of a Helmet Law which imposes to all motorcycle riders the use of helmets.

If in such a case that motorcycle taxis are legalized, there is a higher degree of diligence to be imposed upon public transportation vehicles or “common carriers,” that is, the care required is that of extraordinary diligence. This can prove to bring about implementation problems for it requires an effective and truly working safe system – from the provision of proper exclusive motorcycle lanes, enforcement of traffic laws and regulations, up to par safe specifications for the motorcycles, full compliance of helmet use and safety standards, ready emergency response, and proper training and behaviour of both riders and its passengers. This must go hand-in-hand with educating riders and passengers alike of the recommended behaviour on the roads while aboard a motorcycle and a provision for proper feedback mechanism to improve deficiencies and insufficiencies. Because apart from mobility itself, it is the government’s duty to protect its citizens to be safe at all times.

Motorcycle taxi riders often view motorcycles as a more convenient form of transportation because they are allowed to reach their destination on time beating traffic and are cheaper than taking a cab or Grab (making it more embraceable to the riding masses). Motorcycle taxis also allow riders to be transported to bus, train, or jeepney stops more conveniently and “safely,” as pedestrian accommodations are not always friendly. This unfriendliness has been a result of poor urban and transport planning over the years. Mobility then comes in but admittedly works better if safety is its partner. It can also be argued that making motorcycle taxis legal now is just a band-aid solution to the problem of public transportation, where mass transport is, in the long-term, more reliable and efficient for it transports more people to their destination, rather than a one-to-one correspondence which can be considered more costly in the long-run. This does not equate simply in the monetary costs but also in the lives lost (road crashes and vulnerability) and health impacts (pollution) because of unsafe conditions.

Motorcycle taxis are inexpensive for both the riders and the riding public. Motorcycles allow for personal mobility for countries with smaller per capita purchasing power (as in the Philippine case). It is also fuel-efficient, with an average consumption of 60 kilometers per liter of gasoline and leave less carbon footprint. In the current state of the country where income has not caught up with inflation, cheap is a necessary public good. Motorcycles also allow for faster travel time because of their ability to split lanes and go through narrower spaces beating traffic in record time and reduces risks of losses in terms of income and productivity.

These pros must be weighed on the balance with its cons. The second-largest affected vehicle classification of road crash incidents is the motorcycle class second to cars. While Helmets help reduce deaths and injuries, they are merely secondary safety devices which are used to prevent injuries from worsening. Other road practices must still be properly observed by the motorist. There is also the issue of road security. Absent proper identifying marks such as operator helmets, jackets, or vests, colorum motorcycle taxis may be mistaken as “riding-in-tandem” or motorcycling-riding suspects capable of committing crimes on the road.

Inclusive mobility as the solution

This debate cannot end unless citizens see a real solution for transport. For ordinary Filipinos, the motorcycle is a cheap and fast form of transport. For car users, motorcycles can disrupt traffic flow in the roads because of their lane splitting and filtering between other vehicles. In this light, the main issues to consider are (1) road crashes which continue to increase (and will continue to increase as volume increases); and (2) traffic violations which need to be enforced better because motorcycles are subjected to same traffic laws and regulations (e.g., speed, helmet use, distracted driving, drunk-driving, overtaking, lane splitting, lane filtering, etc). Violation of some of these rules has been one of the primary advantages of motorcycles – for its ability to facilitate faster mobility and avoid the traffic congestion. Lane splitting, however, has proved to have other benefits. Motorcycles’ lane splitting has removed commuters from cars, faster travel time through utilisation of road space, and improves fuel efficiency even in extreme weather.

Therefore, in the interim, as we wait for the promise of mass transport and proper infrastructure that can ease our daily commute and make inclusive mobility a reality, the legalization of motorcycle taxis is a pathway forward. We would even argue that for some routes and segments of society, motorcycle taxis will always be a better option.

We are however for strong regulatory framework that ensures that national laws (e.g., Land Transportation and Traffic Code, Motorcycle Helmet Act), LTO and LTFRB regulations, and local ordinances are consistent with each other – taking into account geographical and cultural characteristics of cities and municipalities; an aim for a synergy of laws through the consideration of social circumstances, security risks, and economic impacts (fares, productivity, mobility, etc). There must be better infrastructure in terms of providing proper motorcycle lanes (where motorcycles do not merge with other vehicles, especially bulkier ones) and an effective oversight arrangement for registration, monitoring, control of vehicle fleet, and safety standards for roads and products. Finally, a stronger enforcement of existing laws and regulations (e.g., provision of CCTV cameras, road warnings and signages, etc.); and training programs directed at behavioral change in motorists and enforcers are essentials for such a framework.

It goes without saying that whether it is cars or motorcycles, environmental considerations must be prioritized.

There is a clear pathway so that motorcycle taxis can be mainstreamed into our public transport system. For that to happen, society must have a consensus on inclusive mobility which Congress must legislate and the executive branch implement.

Motorcycle Club Donates 400 Teddy Bears To Camden County Police To Comfort Children During Traumatic Events

By | General Posts

from https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com

Teddy bears are making a difference in Camden County. The Brothers In Blue Motorcycle Club donated 400 teddy bears to the police department in Camden on Thursday night.

Officers will use the stuffed animals to provide comfort to children involved in traumatic events.

“We are extremely grateful to the Brothers in Blue for their compassion and generosity,” said Chief Joseph Wysocki. “These bears will be kept in police vehicles and always on hand to comfort a child. We are working to ensure that even during traumatic incidents, interactions with our officers are seen are meaningful and positive.”

The bears will be kept in police vehicles.

London Motorcycle Show on the horizon

By | General Posts

by Fraser Addecott from https://www.mirror.co.uk/

Check out all the latest machinery, plus a whole lot more, at the capital’s big bike fest

The post-Christmas winter months are probably not most bikers’ favourite time of the year – seeming cold, wet and miserable.

One bright spot on the horizon, however, is the ever-popular London Motorcycle Show.

This annual extravaganza continues to go from strength to strength and the 2020 edition looks like being no exception.

Alongside the latest machines from the world’s leading manufacturers, visitors will be able to see explosive live-action racing, rare classic machines, biking celebrities and a UK-exclusive celebration of iconic racer Barry Sheene.

All the new models from AJS, BMW, CCM, CF Moto, Ducati, Ecooter, Honda, Husqvarna, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Mutt Motorcycles, MV Agusta, Royal Enfield, Suzuki, Triumph, Yamaha and Zero will be on show.

Nine of Sheene’s legendary race machines (including his two title-winning bikes) are being flown in from Australia specially for the show.

And teammate Steve Parrish and Suzuki chief technician during Sheene’s winning years will be onstage sharing insight and anecdotes.

Race fans will be kept enthralled with a completely revamped Michelin Thunderdrome live-action event once again taking over the centre of the show.

The free races will see the world’s fastest road racer Peter Hickman going head-to-head with fellow Isle of Man TT competitors John McGuinness, Michael Rutter and James Hillier.

Visitors can purchase a VIP paddock pass, which allows them access to the racing stars and an unbeatable view of the action.

Alongside that, the Classic TT will officially be launched at the show, while, in between races, John McGuinness will be found propping up the bar at his own pub.

The 23-time Isle of Man TT winner will be pulling pints and sharing tales from his incredible career with punters throughout the weekend.

Statistics show 41% of riders are wearing helmets that are more than five years old and beyond the manufacturer’s service life.

Anyone who brings their old helmet to the show will receive a free gift and the opportunity to purchase a replacement at a bargain price.

Those wanting to take part should sign up beforehand at helmetamnesty.com.

Motorcyclists looking to escape on an adventure this year will find plenty of inspiration in the Adventure Zone and Bonhams will be bringing rare and exotic machines from the legendary Italian manufacturer Giancarlo Morbidelli collection.

The show is on February 14-16, at ExCel, East London.

For information and reduced-price early-bird tickets, visit mcnmotorcycleshow.com.

Is a flying motorcycle the future of riding?

By | General Posts

by Chris Best from https://www.wkrg.com

The future of riding, may not be riding at all, but flying. That’s if you can afford it. French auto-maker “Lazarus” is showing off its new “motorcycle” that is more about wings than wheels.

It’s called “La Moto Volante”…sounds fancy right? But it just translates to “flying motorcycle.” Four turbines boost the bike from the ground to the sky…talk about getting in the wind. Downside is it will only fly for about 10 minutes at a time…oh and there’s the price tag.

The company will only be making five of them…and they are $560 thousand dollars each. So although the dream of flying motorcycles may be coming true…It will remain a dream for virtually everyone on the planet.

Police Aim To Stop Reckless Motorcycle Groups Before They Start Dangerous Stunt Rides

By | General Posts

by Todd Feurer from https://chicago.cbslocal.com/

CHICAGO (CBS) — Responding to growing complaints about packs of reckless motorcycle riders, Chicago police told aldermen they taking a more proactive approach to reining in swarms of bikers who speed down streets and expressways, performing dangerous stunts that put themselves and others at risk.

Stunt rider motorcycle groups have become more popular in recent years, Chicago Police Cmdr. Sean Loughran, who heads the department’s Special Functions Division, said at a City Council Public Safety Committee meeting on the problem.

Office of Emergency Management and Communications executive director Rich Guidice said there were approximately 1,100 calls to 911 last year complaining about dangerous motorcycle groups.

Rather than trying to stop the groups after they’ve started speeding through the city, police said they plan to keep track of the groups on social media, in an effort to stop large stunt rides before they start.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams has previously reported the stunt biker groups, which frequently post social media videos of themselves popping wheelies, speeding down sidewalks, and blowing through red lights and stop signs, sometimes coming within inches of hitting pedestrians crossing the street.

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), who called on the Chicago Police Department and OEMC to detail their plans to address the dangerous motorcycle groups, said they often ride in groups of 200 to 300 people, speeding down expressways, Lake Shore Drive, and even side streets, ignoring all traffic laws, and putting other motorists and pedestrians in danger.

Loughran said part of the challenge in cracking down on the groups is that chasing them isn’t worth the risk, because it would only put more lives in danger, and actually give the stunt riders what they want – a chance at making a viral video of a police chase.

“These individuals, the worst bad actors, they’re not stopping. In fact, they want you to chase them,” he said. “Many of the riders actively intend to goad law enforcement, on camera, into chases during these drag races, which only heightens the potential danger.”

Police said they plan to focus on using social media to find out when the groups are planning a ride event, and either putting a stop to dangerous motorcycle rallies before they start, or using helicopters to track the groups until they stop, and then handing out tickets, or making arrests if necessary.

“The key to this is when they’re at the rallying points, and swarming with a task force approach,” Loughran said. “We want to flood that area, and get them off their bikes while they’re revving their bikes.”

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), who said the stunt riders are a frequent problem on Lower Wacker Drive, said police should also rely on a new ordinance the City Council passed last summer, increasing the penalties for street racing.

Racing drivers now face fines of $5,000 to $10,000 for each offense.

“Lean on that section of the code. Write those violations, because I’ll tell you, a $5,000 ticket, that gets some attention real quick,” Reilly said.

Loughran said police also can sometimes seize a rider’s motorcycle, if they’re arrested for committing a misdemeanor or felony, or if they don’t have the proper license or registration.

“A lot of the motorcycle riders will intentionally never have license plates affixed on their vehicle, or will bend the plates up, or will remove them when going on these rides,” he said.

Police said riders also often outfit their bikes with illegally modified exhaust systems, or simply remove their mufflers, to create more noise. Those violations carry a $500 fine per day.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) introduced an ordinance last year that would have required the city to install six noise monitors along Lake Shore Drive to help document the extent of the problem of noisy motorcycle groups.

However, Hopkins said the city already is authorized to install those monitors under a 2017 state law, and he said the mayor’s office has agreed to install them along Lake Shore Drive this year.

The alderman said the data from the noise monitors not only will help police investigating the motorcycle groups, but provide the City Council with data to determine if any laws need to be changed to improve enforcement.

Chinese Startup NIU Reveals U.S-Bound Electric Motorcycle, Three-Wheeled Scooter

By | General Posts

by Mircea Panait from https://www.autoevolution.com

Harley-Davidson isn’t trailblazing the industry with the LiveWire electric motorcycle. Two-wheeled vehicles with e-propulsion are huge in China and a few other places around the world, but the Middle Kingdom takes the lion’s share in terms of volume.

More than 30 million units are sold in the People’s Republic each year, and this causes a little bit of chaos in the urban jungle. Major cities such as Beijing and Taiwan have banned e-scooters in 2016 along with segways, but nevertheless, business is good.

So good in fact, a startup called NIU decided to showcase two models at the CES 2020 for the U.S. market. Not to be confused with Chinese automaker NIO, the company plans to roll out the RQi-GT electric motorcycle and TQi-GT covered three-wheeler to places like San Francisco, San Diego, Austin, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and even Honolulu.

NIU first landed in the United States with a fleet of 1,000 mopeds in Brooklyn as part of a partnership with Revel. The mopeds in question feature 60 and 80 miles or range, respectively, Panasonic batteries, and up to 3,800 watts of get-up-and-go from the e-motor.

Billed as an urban performance motorcycle, the RQi-GT is capable of 160 km/h (100 miles per hour) from 30 kW and two removable batteries with a total capacity of 6.5 kWh. In other words, riders can expect up to 130 kilometers (80 miles) in one go. Thanks to that kind of range, the RQi-GT has the makings of an interesting commuter mobile.

Next up, the TQi-GT is a little more special because it’s the manufacturer’s first self-balancing electric three-wheeler. As if that kind of technological wizardry wasn’t enough, look forward to autonomous driving (or riding?) functionalities such as self parking.

The TQi-GT comes in second in terms of top speed (80 km/h or 50 miles per hour) but it features a similar range as the electric motorcycle. Last, but certainly not least, 5G connectivity translates to real-time vehicle diagnostics, remote start, and over-the-air updates for the two- and three-wheeler.

NIU plans to start production of the RQi-GT and TQi-GT for the U.S. sometime in the second half of 2020, and the first deliveries are scheduled a few months after that.

1950s Throwback – The Heated Motorcycle Helmet

By | General Posts

by Florin Tibu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Effervescent and lively as the ‘50s have been, that decade was also littered with some of the funniest contraptions aimed at solving some of the most common issues motorists had. And here’s one of the truly crazy ones, the heated motorcycle helmet.

The video comes from a French outlet and this helmet is presented as the “Thermoscaphe”, so we could assume it is a French invention. Its name is a derivation from the term “bathyscaphe”, a manned submersible vehicle for deep-sea exploration that’s still in use nowadays.

Now, we’re not at all sure that the inventor of the thermoscaphe was serious about it, albeit we reckon that most of the wacky innovators back in the day were convinced that their creations were genius. However, the design of this helmet’s hull is indeed useful, as its all-transparent, 360-degree viewing angle acryllic structure provides excellent sight. And we’re not going into the aerodynamics debate, right?

Obviously not designed for high speed, this helmet doesn’t come with a chin strap, even though it has safety thethers. Presumably it didn’t need a Pinlock lens, as the breathing space between its lower edge and the wearer’s body would ventilate the interior well enough to prevent fogging. And of course, you’ve got additional vents all around…

As for the thermal side of this prototype, we had a really good laugh. The heating element is a primitive one, using an alcohol lamp whose flame heats an air duct. The outside air is pushed through this duct by means of a battery-powered fan, and is supposed to become warmer as it flows through the metal tube. It would be interesting to measure the heat difference, though.

The whole heating device is attached to the left side of the helmet, adding even more weird points to this project. We can only hope that at least the lamp was designed in such a way that alcohol would not easily spill when the helmet is tipped, even though it appears to sit freely, without any visible straps to keep in in place. As if a bike crash and zero shock protection wasn’t enough, having your clothes doused in alcohol and catching on fire seems to be a scenario the creator of this helmet didn’t consider at all.

Helmet air conditioning is still a thing today

Still, the idea of having AC inside a motorcycle helmet was not abandoned altogether. From DYI attempts to actual helmets that are on sale today, many riders thought that being able to avoid extreme temperatures inside their lids was a neat thing. Today, we can find AC add-ons that strap to a helmet and provide a flow of cool air when riding in the summer, such as the BlueSnap from BlueArmor. It is indeed bulky and looks rather unnatural, and most likely is very unnerving when riding at high speed, but you can actually get one.

Or you can go even further and pull the trigger on a makeshift AC unit that you can carry as a backpack. It will cool down air sucked from the outside and push it through a tube inside your helmet. Will it do the trick? Probably yes, but this is hardly a solution, at least from a practical standpoint. Going cyborg certainly doesn’t cut it, especially if you’re using the bike for running errands around the city. Just take a look at what using this type of helmet AC is like and you’ll understand.

Honestly, the best solution we found was the Feher ACH-1 helmet. Dubbed the “Mr. Cool” helmet, this lid comes with an air conditioner perfectly integrated in the back of the helmet, looking pretty cool (pun intended) and unobtrusive. This DOT and ECE-approved lid is also on the lightweight side, as it tips the scales at 1,450 grams or 3.2 pounds, which is still lighter than most casual modular helmets out there.

No idea about craftsmanship and wearing comfort, but if keeping a cool head when riding the bike is crucial for you, the Feher ACH-1 sounds like a good buy at $450, also available in sizes XS through 2XL and in no less than five color options.

We here still use water poured on the liner when riding in very hot weather, sometimes considering a custom scarf made of hi-flow material, worn around the neck, and in whose pouch we can add several ice cubes. Melting ice also wets the undergarments and this helps cool the body, too, albeit being a solution a tad too messy for some.

As for the 1957 heated helmet, is DOES bring to mind the Red Bull Flugtag, an event we just can’t have enough of. Please do have your say on the Thermoscaphe, and who knows how much sillier and funnier ideas might pop up.