It’s now August. Pecco Bagnaia leads a bevy of Ducati Desmos in the 2023 title chase; no surprise there. Brad Binder being the top non-Ducati challenger surprises me, but perhaps not you. All-time track records are, once again this season, getting clobbered. But the rate of attrition amongst the contestants is truly frightening.
Was it a simulation? The brilliant sunshine, cloudless skies, zero precipitation, and 70-degree daily temperatures for the entire fortnight of 2023 Isle of Man TT was the best weather I’ve ever experienced in 14 trips here. Hell, it was the best stretch of weather I’ve ever experienced on a vacation, anywhere. And it made for a memorable TT for the tens of thousands of enthusiasts on the annual hejira to this unequalled motorbike racing festival.
Michael Dunlop, Peter Hickman, Dean Harrison. These three riders have been dominating the podium at the 2023 Isle of Man TT Races, pushing each other relentlessly for up to 226 miles per race around the most punishing course in all of motorsports, thrilling the fans that line the roads on hedges, grandstands and pubs.
Shoei is known for producing premium motorcycle helmets, and the newly released in the United States Shoei X-Fifteen helmet represents the current state of the company's helmet art. When you have racers of the caliber of Marc Marquez wearing your helmet, you know that the helmet is one of the best in the world – as befits a six-time world champion. The big news for track riders is the 6.1% reduction in drag and 1.6% reduction in lift compared the the previous generation. During the development of the new shell, the helmet was tested at speeds in excess of 218 mph. So, we mere mortals should be OK during our track day exploits. Since these typically take place during the summer months, the seven intake and six exhaust vents will help to keep riders cool. Finally, the rider's field of vision has been improved.
When Dunlop released the Sportmax Q5, and its Q5S sister tire, I was skeptical. To get straight to the point, I wasn’t a big fan of the previous Q4 tire. Yes it warmed up quickly, but it also wore quickly and didn’t have enough edge grip to feel confident on the throttle on a powerful 1000cc-plus bike. Dunlop addressed a lot of the Q4’s shortcomings with the Q5, and after a day sampling the Q5 and Q5S, I came away impressed with the new tire. But that was just an initial impression. I was still skeptical about the tire over the long haul. How quickly does it wear? How does it behave once it’s worn? How much life can I really expect out of these tires? And are they really worth it?
In honor of the beginning of the 2023 racing season, MotoAmerica, North America’s premier motorcycle road racing series, has agreed to give two lucky entrants a subscription MotoAmerica Live+ for the 2023 season and a pair of three-day passes to the MotoAmerica event of the winner’s choice. For those who don’t know, MotoAmerica is officially sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), and its racing series features seven classes of motorcycle road racing: Medallia Superbike, Supersport, SportTrackGear.com Junior Cup, Yuasa Stock 1000, REV’IT! Twins Cup, Mission King Of The Baggers, and Mini Cup by Motul. The 2023 calendar features 10 full weekends of the best roadracing to be found on the continent. While it’s always preferable to see racing in person, most of us don’t have the time to travel the country to attend every event. MotoAmerica Live+ makes it possible to stream six to eight ours of coverage per day for each race weekend. This means fans can watch practice, qualifying, racing, and special features from the comfort of their couch.
The Harley-Davidson vs. Indian rivalry is a great American classic on par with the likes of Army vs. Navy, Lakers vs. Celtics, Ford vs. Chevy, Pepsi vs. Coke, and even…Google vs. Bing? Ok, maybe not that last one, but you get the point. Harley and Indian have been at each other’s throats going back over a century, save for a 50-odd-year pause in the middle when Indian originally closed its doors. But when Polaris bought the keys to the palace and opened the doors again, the fight resumed as intense as ever when the FTR750 flat tracker started beating Harley’s legendary XR750. Repeatedly.
The invention of the trackday tire is the single greatest thing to happen to trackday riders since, well, trackdays. Being able to leave the tire warmers at home (or not own any at all!) has a trickle-down effect for those lazy riders among us – myself included. No warmers means the stands can stay home, and so can the generator. Better still, leaving all those things behind doesn’t compromise anything out on track; modern trackday tires provide plenty of grip and more longevity than your average race slick. (But let’s make one thing clear: if you’re actually racing, a slick is still the way to go.)
When Ducati revealed the 2023 Panigale V4 R last week, we raised an eyebrow when we saw its $44,995 price tag. As we noted in our First Look article, this exceed the price cap to be eligible for World Superbike racing. According to 2022 regulations, sport production machines were capped to a price of €40k, and the previous Panigale V4 R fit snugly below that price cap. The 2023 model, however, comes in at €43,990 in Ducati’s home market, Italy. We figured another shoe had to drop.
After a one week delay due to “organizational reasons,” Ducati released the fourth part of its 2023 World Première series, “This is Racing”. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the subject of the episode is the new 2023 Ducati Panigale V4 R. We knew the V4 R would represent the pinnacle of Ducati’s racing development, so we eagerly awaited the official details.
In a move further supporting my argument that R1s are purpose-built racebikes with lights and mirrors to make them legal on the roads, for 2023 Yamaha is introducing the R1 GYTR – an R1 prepared specifically for track duty, without any of the homologation pieces for roadworthiness (don’t worry, the standard R1 isn’t going anywhere). Yamaha similarly does the same thing with the R6, offering it for sale exclusively as a track-only model.
As a kid, I remember my folks would take their shoes to the local shoe repair shop. I take it for granted now since I’ve been working from home long before it was cool, but there was a time when people not only had to go into an office, they also had to wear nice clothes, too! And the bit of that wardrobe that got the most punishment were the shoes. Those business shoes never looked comfortable, with their hard soles and weird patterns on the leather. But they lasted a long time, and if the soles ever wore out – which they did regularly with my folks – the local repair shop (I guess they were called cobblers even further back in time) could just put a new sole on and breathe new life into what would have been (re)tired shoes.
Let’s clear the air right off the bat with this one: This is *not* a crash-tested review, though I can understand why you would think so after I wrote about my recent experiences tumbling down the road in the Forcite MK1 helmet and Alpinestars’ own GP Force Chaser entry-level suit. While it’s never a great time to crash a motorcycle, the timing of those experiences brings a great deal of context to the latest in safety innovation by Alpinestars: the Tech-Air 10 airbag system.