As you might expect, insurance companies like Progressive Insurance doggedly track accident rates and claims through the year. Progressive just sent out the interesting infographic below highlighting the summer season motorcycle accident and claims patterns. “The summer travel season is peak time for passionate motorcycle riders and, after a brutal winter, more riders are hitting the road than ever before. In fact, new motorcycle sales are up more than eight percent through the first quarter, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council,” says Progressive. “And with more bikes come more claims, especially in the summer months.”
Hopnel™ expands its popular Can-Am Spyder RT Trunk Bra Set to include 2010-13 models. This attractive, finish-saving accessory is designed to reduce the nicks, chips and bugs that pummel the front cowl and front trunk of the Can-Am RT. This two piece Front Cowl and Trunk Bra Set has a tailored bra for the front trunk and another tailored sewn wrap for the front lower intake cowl. The Front Cowl and Trunk Bra Set greatly reduces the road rash the Can-Am RT takes, and provides a clean blacked-out look to the front cowl without covering the chrome. Both the upper and the lower bras wrap into the front trunk lip and are held securely in place with special adhesive backed hook and stitched loop. Available in black only and made in the USA. Click here for more info or to order at Bike Bike Parts.
For Can-Am RT 2010-2013
BBP# H41-158BK MSRP $39.95
For Can-Am RT 2014-Current
BBP # H41-157BK MSRP $39.95
Modern vintage wear
Inspired by the real world of racing and riding, and crafted from premium cowhide leather to deliver beauty and durability while providing critical abrasion resistance, the M1 jacket from Pagnol brings functional style to motorcycling in a way few garments do. Classic yet modern, it’s designed for everyday riding and crafted to last for years, with protective underarm Kevlar panels and pockets in the mesh lining for additional armor. Available in three colors (Tobacco shown), sizes XS-XL. $599. MC
Ducati’s first desmodromic V-twin engine powered Paul Smart to victory in the 1972 Imola 200 and Mike Hailwood to his legendary comeback win in the 1978 Isle of Man TT. Replaced by the belt-driven Pantah engine that was introduced in 1979, the bevel-drive desmo ceased production in the mid-1980s, and ever since, parts for the thousands of bikes built with this engine have been drying up.
Ducati bevel-drive engine specialist Vee Two Australia has addressed this issue, developing a brand-new air-cooled, bevel-drive, desmodromic V-twin engine, unveiled in April by company owner Brook Henry and Vee Two’s general manager Andrew Cathcart [Alan Cathcart’s son] at Australia’s annual Broadford Bike Bonanza historic bike festival. To demonstrate that the engine is close to being customer ready, the prototype was fired up several times, drowning the Broadford circuit’s pits with waves of rolling thunder.
The Vee Two Ritorno Twin (ritorno is Italian for “comeback”) has a bore and stroke of 88mm x 74.4mm for a capacity of 904cc (production Ducati 900s had a bore and stroke of 86mm x 74.4mm for a capacity of 864cc), and in racing form is expected to deliver around 120 horsepower. A modern re-creation of the ultimate bevel-drive Ducati desmo V-twin engine, it’s being manufactured for sale using the original Ducati drawings, supplied with the approval of the Ducati factory.
It’s an externally faithful reproduction of the factory NCR race engine used by Mike Hailwood to win the 1978 Isle of Man TT, with the crankcases and other major castings sandcast in high-strength heat-treated aluminum and external covers cast in magnesium. “While the engine is historically authentic externally, all engine internals have been manufactured using modern materials and up-to-date design technology,” says Andrew Cathcart. “But all parts are interchangeable with existing bevel-drive engines, so Ducatisti around the world whose bikes are off the road because they can’t source spare parts for them will now be able to do so from Vee Two Australia.”
The Vee Two Ritorno aims to offer cutting edge performance with authentic bevel-drive looks. “We have put together this first prototype engine as a mule to allow us to commence our testing regime,” says Brook Henry. “Over the next 12 months we will extensively develop the engine with the aim of providing both reliable interchangeable street bike components, and an excellent platform to go racing in the Post-Classic Period 5 class here in Australia, or in Vintage Superbike and the air-cooled Pro Twins class in the USA, Japan and Europe.”
Good news for Ducati owners everywhere, just don’t expect them to be inexpensive: Prices for the Vee Two Ritorno engine start at $29,000. More info: Vee Two website. MC
Paul Ritter leads Ed Unini and Jim Haberlin at Ontario in 1976.
Fans of Superbike racing well remember the names that made the new-for-1976 class the most dynamic of the race season calendar. Cook Neilson and Phil Schilling put Ducati on the U.S. map with the California Hot Rod, while Reg Pridmore and Steve McLaughlin did the same for BMW. Wes Cooley and Erik Buell contested the series, too, as did Mike Baldwin and Keith Code. But there’s another rider whose name often seems left out in the memories, Paul Ritter.
That might be due to Ritter’s relatively short track career. He rode Ducatis from the beginning, starting with a single-cylinder Diana 250 in his first races in 1973. The 250 single gave way to a 350 Mark 3D desmo single and then, in 1975, Ritter started racing his Ducati 750 Sport street bike. Along the way, he discovered he had a natural talent for racing, honed by watching better riders and learning from their successes. Riding his 750 Sport, Ritter won the 1976 750 Production class championship.
His big break came later that year, when he teamed up with Dale Newton under the Aero-Union banner. In 1977, he raced Newton’s 750SS in 750 Production and Newton’s Ducati 900SS in Superbike. Ritter dominated the 750 Production class, ending the year with 12 overall wins and one crash. Not bad for someone only four years into the sport.
That year, Ritter won his first Superbike race, coming in first at Sears Point in front of Daytona Superbike winner Cook Neilson, plus Ron Pierce, Steve McLaughlin and Reg Pridmore. “I only vaguely remember the winner’s circle ceremony,” Ritter writes. “I was over the moon with joy.”
Still riding for Newton, Ritter repeated his Sears Point Superbike win in 1978, but the landscape was changing as the 4-cylinder Japanese competition learned how to make their bikes handle as well as go fast. In 1977, four of the seven Superbike wins went to European machines. One year later, European machines — Ducati and BMW — would win only two of six races.
Racing the Gods: A Ducati Superbike Racer's Autobiography by Paul Ritter.
By the early 1980s Ritter had moved away from racing, settling into his engineering profession and a new family. Years later, his love for bikes resurfaced, and he decided to try vintage racing, a decision that would change his life forever. Racing at Steam Boat Springs in 1997, Ritter crashed and was run over by another rider. The resulting injuries permanently paralyzed him from the chest down, and Ritter describes in frank detail the difficult process of reclaiming his life — and his independence.
His accident and the subsequent challenges he faced have given him rare perspective, putting his experiences racing with the greats of the Seventies into sharper focus. Inspiring and historically important, if you love Superbike history, you need to read this book. Octane Press: 256 pages, $29.95. Order a copy: Racing the Gods. MC
Photos courtesy Octane Press
Six-time world champion and six-time TT winner Geoff Duke passed away May 1, 2015, at his home in the Isle of Man, at the age of 92. Duke was the first global superstar of Grand Prix racing as the first rider to win two World Championships in the same year, winning the 1951 350cc and 500cc world crowns on Norton Manx singles, and the first to win three successive World Championships, the 1953-1955 world titles on 4-cylinder Gileras.
In the early 1950s, Duke became a household name in Europe thanks to his good looks, stylish riding, polite manner, and especially his underdog success defeating the 4-cylinder Gilera and MV Agusta multis aboard the much less powerful but better handling Norton singles. Ironically, thanks partly to the resentment by Norton’s directors that Duke would be earning more than them if they paid him what he was worth, Duke transferred to the Gilera team — for twice the salary he was earning at Norton. He swiftly transformed Gilera’s fast but unruly fours into unbeatable machinery that took him to three 500cc world crowns.
Duke was also the first rider to wear one-piece racing leathers, after he enlisted his local tailor to make a lighter and more efficient outfit to replace the heavy and baggy two-piece race suits used up to then. He won the 1950 Senior TT wearing these leathers on his first ride for the Norton factory team, with many riders following suit at the end of that season.
Duke’s Gilera career was punctuated by the six-month ban imposed on him by the Federation of International Motorcycling (FIM) at the start of 1956, after he and Gilera teammate Reg Armstrong supported the threat of a rider’s strike at the 1955 Dutch TT at Assen where, in spite of huge crowds in excess of 100,000 fans, the organizers paid the hard-pressed privateers forming the now famous “Continental Circus” a pittance. Although a new regulation came into effect at the end of the season compelling organizers to pay riders a much higher cash sum than before, Duke’s reward was to be suspended from racing for the first half of the following season, leaving him unable to defend his 500cc world title. Imagine the FIM suspending Marc Márquez or Valentino Rossi for such a period — and for such a reason — today!
Geoff Duke was the supreme racer of his generation. Impeccably behaved and always polite, to foreign enthusiasts he was the quintessential Englishman. His love of Italy and its people was reciprocated in full, and his contribution to the sport as it struggled to gain acceptance in the postwar era cannot be overestimated, for he more than anyone else was responsible for putting two-wheeled road racing on the global map. MC
Summit Racing Equipment has chosen to add BrakeShot, from Phoenix Systems, to its product lineup. BrakeShot fights corrosion and the effects of copper in the brake system. By adding BrakeShot to its product lineup, Summit Racing provides customers with a way to protect the brake system on their high performance and specialty vehicles.
BrakeShot is designed with a formulation that retards copper corrosion in the brake system. This helps stop common brake system problems like sticking calipers or ailing master cylinders, and can extend the life of the braking system.
“BrakeShot is a crucial product for high performance vehicles,” said Ben Leamon Martinsen VP Marketing and Operations at Phoenix Systems. “Performance vehicles need to be able to stop quickly, and BrakeShot helps protect the brake system from corrosion for better performance.”
BrakeShot comes with BrakeStrip, another Phoenix Systems product, which is used to test the brake fluid to determine if BrakeShot is needed. This helps vehicle owners use it effectively. When BrakeStrip indicates copper levels between 50-175 ppm, vehicle owners add one bottle of BrakeShot into the master cylinder to fight the copper corrosion.
“We are always looking for new products that will improve the experience for our customers,” said a Summit Racing Equipment spokesperson. “When we came across BrakeShot, we felt it was an ideal option for our customers. It's fast, affordable and effective, making it the perfect braking system enhancer for racing professionals.” Summit Racing Equipment customers can purchase BrakeShot online at the Summit Racing website.