Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A note from the Dept. of 'Hmm...'

Yesterday, I saw two unrelated(?) press releases that, together, make me wonder what's up.

First, I read that Yamaha would not field an official factory team in World Superbike next year. The press release actually seemed to threaten more than just the factory SBK effort, with language that suggested a general de-emphasis of racing and a [relative] increase in customer-focused marketing efforts.

Then, Francis Batta, who runs Suzuki's official SBK team released a far more cryptic statement to the effect that if Suzuki withdrew from the World Superbike series in 2012, he would not seek to affiliate with another manufacturer.

Are we about to see the World Superbike Championship suffer a MotoGP-style grid recession?

I haven't been paying too much attention to the European bike market, nor do I know what the implications of a larger European credit crisis would be on motorcycle sales over there. But, it can't be good.

Shifting gears...

I've written in the past about Honda's interesting R&D in the area of mind-controlled machines. Now I see that Toyota has collaborated with a couple of hot shops to produce a bicycle that will shift gears based on the rider's merely thinking about it. Apparently the system -- which picks up the rider's brain waves with a sensor-filled helmet -- then sends those signals to a smartphone via bluetooth which, in turn triggers servos that change gears... phew! -- 'learns' when the rider wants to shift.

You used to describe a really good-handling motorcycle as one that, you just had to think about where you wanted to go, and it would turn.

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