The Motorcycle Year in Review. Looking Back at 2010

For motorcycle enthusiasts, 2010 was the year the motorcycle community lost a couple of icons and a shootout between rival motorcycle clubs in Nevada, and a jury find that a casino was libel for injuries in another shootout 8 years ago. Let’s look back at the Motorcycle Year 2010.

On New Year’s day when everyone else was sleeping off a hangover, Jeff Decker, owner of Hippodrome Studios in Springville Utah took a crane and went to Timpanogos HD in Lindon UT and repo’d a 4 ton art statue of a motorcycle racer. The dealership had been through bankruptcy and listed

who owns "Lands Speed?" The artist or the dealership

the $100,000 work of art as an asset, but Decker said it was on loan and he had the paperwork to prove it.

Los Angeles Motorcycle Police officers traded in their Harley’s for BMW’s

INDIAN Motorcycles passed stringent CARB certification which allowed the brand to begin distributing the iconic bikes in California.

Ridley Motorcycles surrendered after a seven year legal battle with Harley-Davidson and agreed to quit using the term Auto-Glide in reference to some of its motorcycles. Lehman Trikes and Harley-Davidson parted ways as the Milwaukee

Ridley agreed to quit using the term "Auto-Glide" as this motorcycle's official designation

motorcycle maker said it would start producing the tri-glide trikes in its Pennsylvania plant.

Tony Taylor, former lead singer for the heavy metal band Twister Tower Dire was killed in a motorcycle accident in Ft. Meyers Florida.

Erik Buell isn’t sitting around after having his namesake company shuttered by Harley-Davidson, Buell started a company to provide race bikes in 2010 to companies who want to compete on the track with American made motorcycles.

Orange County Choppers was presumed dead after TLC dropped the show amid a feud between the Tuetels father and son team.

Sex and the City actor Max Ryan broke his collarbone and 5 ribs when a vehicle turned in front of him in Los Angeles.

Angelle Sampey, the sexiest and winningest female in motorsports history announced her retirement.

Winningest and sexiest female drag racer retires

Daytona Beach Police busted a chop shop that had been shuttling stolen bikes between New York and Florida for 5 years.

Illinois State Senator Gary Forby helped defeat legislation (19-32) that would require children under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. He told critics of the bill “I don’t want you to come tell me how to raise my kids”

In a highly criticized report, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said motorcycle training courses were not effective at reducing accidents for riders 21 years and under. In the same study, the Institute found that motorcycles equipped with anti-lock brakes were 37% less likely to be involved in an accident.

Anthony Graber became the cause célèbre of civil libertarians when he was stopped on a Maryland interstate for reckless riding and secretly recorded Maryland Air National Guard Sergeant Joseph David Uhler acting in, what many perceived as an unprofessional manner. Graber later posted the video on YouTube which so angered the State police and prosecutors office they charged him with a law that was meant to prevent citizens from wiretapping the police and courts. With outrage mounting,  A judge would later throw out the wiretapping charge.
The Tail of the Dragon was reopened several months after a rock slide shut down the popular motorcyclist destination at the start of the busy spring riding season.

Harley-Davidson shocked Wisconsin lawmakers and angered the Harley faithful when it said there was a strong possibility that the day could come when no more Harley-Davidson motorcycles would be produced in the state where the company was born. Harley demanded and eventually received significant concessions from local union members and the plants remained in the Milwaukee area.

In an attack on states where helmet use is optional, Senator Frank Lautenberg fired the opening salvo in hearings by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by repeatedly calling for a National Helmet Law, later this year the NTSB would pick up the mandatory helmet use banner saying it intends to pressure those states where helmet use is optional to enact mandatory use legislation.

Robbie Knievel went to the Twin Falls Idaho area Chamber of Commerce to request permission to attempt a jump that his famous father failed to complete. Robbie asked to be allowed to jump the Snake River Canyon on July 4th 2011, the 43rd anniversary of Evel’s failed attempt. A spokesperson for the Chamber said the request is on hold pending a decision by the County Commissioners.

Dennis Hopper Dies In 2010. Best known to bikers as Billy in the movie Easyriders

Dennis Hopper, best known to motorcyclists as “Billy” in the iconic Easy Rider movie, died at the age of 74.

The South Carolina Supreme Court tossed out a city ordinance requiring all motorcyclists wear a helmet in Myrtle Beach.

Polaris caused a stir when it announced it intended to outsource some of its ATV parts production to workers in Mexico and cut jobs in the USA. While the motorcycle side of the giant motorsports company was not affected, Polaris did say that once the Osceola Wisconsin plant closed, Victory engine manufacturing would be moved to Spirit Lake Iowa.

Sputnik Strain,  a larger than life motorcycle rights advocate from Texas died. He was 70.

The Hoka Hey challenge roared into the history books as the most celebrated and controversial endurance ride/ quasi race held in recent memory. Several participants died and organizers dodged questions for a month concerning prize money and not declaring an official winner. In the end, Will Barclay was declared the winner and told Quick Throttle magazine that he received his $500,000 prize money, but that did not end the controversy.

California legislators enacted a law making it illegal to modify the exhaust on 2011 and newer motorcycles, and Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law later in the year.

Chuck Zito pissed off Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter when he filed suit against FX claiming the network stole his idea for the fictional motorcycle club drama. Sutter called Zito a (expletive deleted) loser and a bitter juvenile gnat.

Thieves stole a pink Harley-Davidson Sportster belonging to the Susan G. Komen Foundation that was to be auctioned to raise money for breast cancer awareness. The bike was found months later in a garage, chopped and stripped ready to be sold for parts.

In a marriage that barely lasted  a year, MV Agusta was sold/returned to its former owner, the Castiglioni family. When it was all said and done, the Milwaukee company (in write downs and loans forgiven) essentially paid $136 million dollars to dump the sportbike company. This isn’t the first time that Harley-Davidson took a bath in business dealings with the Italians, in the early 60’s HD bought 50% of Aermacchi and full control in 1974, and four years later sold it back to Cagiva, owned by (who else) the Castiglioni family.

Motorcyclists across the USA were angered when it was revealed that NHTSA awarded a $70,000 grant to the Georgia State Patrol to conduct motorcycle only checkpoints at motorcycle events throughout the state.

Cycle News, America’s longest running motorcycle competition magazine shocked the industry when it pulled the plug on its print edition. The good news is that before the last epitaph was written, a buyer had stepped forth to purchase the title with plans to resurrect it.

Hells Angels and Vagos motorcycle clubs engaged in a shootout in Prescott Arizona with over 50 shots exchanged and five club members injured.

Indiana motorcyclists clogged city streets and protested after DUI charges were dropped against an on duty city police officer who was allegedly intoxicated when he crashed his cruiser into a group of motorcyclists at a light, killing one and injuring two others.

Black motorcyclists have a 50% higher incident of fatalities than their white counterparts, according to a report from John’s Hopkins University. The percent held up even after controlling for factors such as severity of the accident, the biker’s gender and hospitalization insurance status. Other factors, such as age, type of bike and/or past driving history were not considered.

Ft. Meyers police arrested a 53 year old woman for attempting to hire a hit man to kill her husband. Police say Kimberly Alters offered her husband’s Harley-Davidson as payment.

Despite being almost double what the county appraised the property, 9.2 million dollars just wasn’t enough to convince the owner of One-Eyed Jacks to sell the popular biker bar in Sturgis South Dakota. The owner backed out of the sale citing $10 million as his minimum asking price.

Two wheels safer than four. That’s the conclusion of a study by a team of researchers at John’s Hopkins. The study found that ATV riders were 50% more likely to die of their injuries than similarly injured motorcycle riders and that ATV riders were 55% more likely to be injured and admitted to intensive care units than motorcyclists.

would you mistake the wearer of this dress as a 1% MC club member?

A French designer house folded like a house of cards after receiving legal notice from The Hells Angels claiming copyright infringement. Alexandar McQueen immediately agreed to recall merchandise which resembled the clubs death head logo that had been sold in Saks Fifth Ave and Zappos.com.

A civil jury found casino company Harrah’s Inc liable for injuries suffered by patrons during the 2002 shootout between the Hells Angels and Mongols Motorcycle club.

Four members of the Saddle Tramps MC were killed in a horrific wreck on a two lane California road when a gold colored Honda Civic passed the group and forced an oncoming car to swerve off the road and back across the lane into their path. The driver of the Honda was not arrested and police have no leads.

Harley-Davidson is seeking additional concessions from its union in Kansas City and has said it may be forced to move production to York PA or Wisconsin if it doesn’t get what it needs to streamline operations.

2011 KAWASAKI NINJA® ZX™-10R

Power Is Nothing Without Control

Newer. Faster. Lighter. Better. You hear these descriptors all the time in this business.

Problem is, reality rarely lives up to the hype.

But Kawasaki’s new-from-the-ground-up 2011 Ninja® ZX-10R sportbike has no such credibility gap, going several steps beyond newer, faster, lighter and better by offering the most advanced traction-control system in all of production motorcycling.

Yes, in all of production motorcycling.

Not only are we talking about a complete redesign of the ZX-10R’s engine, frame, suspension, bodywork, instrumentation and wheels, but a highly advanced and customizable electronic system that helps riders harness and capitalize on the new ZX-10R’s amazing blend of power and responsive handling. The system is called Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control, or S-KTRC. It represents a whole new dimension in motorcycle performance, and the ZX-10R is the only production sport bike that can take you there.

Motorcyclists have forever been challenged by traction-related issues, whether on dirt, street or track. Riders that can keep a rear tire from spinning excessively or sliding unpredictably are both faster and safer, a tough combination to beat on the racetrack. And when talking about the absolute leading edge of open-class sport bike technology, where production street bikes are actually more capable than full-on race bikes from just a couple years ago, more consistent traction and enhanced confidence is a major plus.

The MotoGP-derived S-KTRC system works by crunching numbers from a variety of parameters and sensors – wheel speed and slip, engine rpm, throttle position, acceleration, etc. There’s more data gathering and analysis going on here than on any other Kawasaki in history, and it’s all in the name of helping racers inch closer to the elusive “edge” of maximum traction than ever before. The S-KTRC system relies on complex software buried in the new ZX-10R’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU), the only additional hardware is the lightweight speed sensors located on each wheel.

Unlike the KTRC system on Kawasaki’s Concours 14 ABS sport tourer, which primarily minimizes wheel slip on slick or broken surfaces as a safety feature, the S-KTRC system is designed to maximize performance by using complex analysis to predict when traction conditions are about to become unfavorable. By quickly, but subtly reducing power just before the amount of slippage exceeds the optimal traction zone, the system – which processes every data point 200 times per second – maintains the optimum level of tire grip to maximize forward motion. The result is significantly better lap times and enhanced rider confidence –exactly what one needs when piloting a machine of this caliber.

The S-KTRC system offers three different modes of operation, which riders can select according to surface conditions, rider preference and skill level: Level 1 for max-grip track use, Level 2 for intermediate use, and Level 3 for slippery conditions. An LCD graph in the newly designed instrument cluster displays how much electronic intervention is occurring in real time and a thumb switch on the left handlebar pod allows simple, on-the-go mode changes.

The system also incorporates an advanced Power Mode system that allows riders to choose the amount of power – and the character of delivery – available from the engine. Besides the standard Full-power mode are Medium and Low settings. In Medium mode, performance varies according to throttle position and engine rpm; at anything less than 50 percent throttle opening, performance is essentially the same as in Low mode; at more than 50 percent, riders can access additional engine performance. All three S-KTRC settings are available in each of the three Power Mode settings.

And the motorcycle so capably managed by all of this trick electronic wizardry? It’s completely redesigned from 2010 to ’11.

It all starts with the 10R’s all-new inline-four, easily the most advanced engine to ever emerge from a Kawasaki factory. Like last year’s potent ZX-10R engine, the new powerplant is a 16-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-four displacing 998cc via 76 x 55mm bore and stroke dimensions. But that’s where the similarity stops, as the new mill boasts a handful of engineering changes designed to optimize power, power delivery, center of gravity and actual engine placement within the chassis.

A primary goal of Kawasaki engineers was linear power delivery and engine manageability throughout all elements of a corner: the entry, getting back to neutral throttle at mid-corner, and heady, controllable acceleration at the exit. Peak torque was moved to a higher rpm range, which eliminates the power peaks and valleys that make it difficult for racers and track-day riders to open the throttle with confidence.

Larger intake valves (31mm vs. 30mm), wider– and polished – intake ports, and completely revised exhaust porting all allow better breathing, more controllable power delivery and less engine braking, just the thing to smooth those racetrack corner entries and exits. Higher-lift camshafts built from lighter-yet-stronger chromoly steel (instead of cast iron) and featuring revised overlap further contribute to optimized engine braking and more controllable power delivery. Newly designed lightweight pistons feature shorter skirts and mount to lighter and stronger connecting rods, each of which spin a revised crankshaft made of a harder material and featuring stronger pins and journal fillets. Compression moves to a full 13.0:1.

There’s more, including a totally revamped crankshaft/transmission shaft layout that contributes to a higher center of mass – and improved handling via better mass centralization – by locating the crankshaft approximately 10 degrees higher relative to the output shaft. There’s even a secondary engine balancer assembly this year, which allows a number of vibration-damping parts to be simplified, contributing to weight savings. A smaller and dramatically lighter battery helps drop even more weight, as does a lighter ECU and fuel pump.

A race-style cassette transmission allows simple trackside ratio changes and offers a host of improvements for 2011. These include closer spacing for 4th, 5th and 6th gears and the fine-tuning of the primary and final reduction ratios for less squat/lift during acceleration and deceleration, which allows more precise suspension tuning in back. An adjustable back-torque limiting clutch assembly is fitted, which allows worry-free downshifts and an even higher level of corner-entry calmness.

Cramming all that fuel and air into this amazing new engine is a ram air-assisted fuel injection system featuring larger throttle bodies (47 vs. 43mm) and sub-throttle valves, a larger-capacity airbox (9 vs. 8 liters), secondary injectors that improve top-end power characteristics, and a large, redesigned ram-air intake that’s positioned closer to the front of the bike for more efficient airbox filling and increased power.

The final piece of the ZX-10R’s power-production formula is a race-spec exhaust system featuring a titanium header assembly, hydroformed collectors, a large-volume pre-chamber containing two catalyzers and a highly compact silencer. Due to the header’s race-spec design, riders and racers looking for more closed-course performance need only replace the slip-on muffler assembly.

With the engine producing a massive quantity of usable and controllable power, engineers looked to the chassis to help refine handling and overall road/track competency even further. An all-new aluminum twin-spar frame was designed, an all-cast assemblage of just seven pieces that features optimized flex characteristics for ideal rider feedback, cornering performance and lighter weight than last year’s cage. Fewer pieces mean fewer welds, which contributes to a cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing look. Like the frame, the new alloy swingarm is an all-cast assembly, with idealized rigidity matching that of the frame itself.

Chassis geometry was juggled to offer the best possible stability and handling quickness. Rake, at 25 degrees, is a half-degree steeper than on the 2010 machine, while trail has been reduced from 110 to 107mm. This slightly more radical front end geometry, and the quicker, lighter handling it allows, was made possible largely by the new engine’s more controllable power, engine placement and the CG differences it generated, and the frame and swingarm’s newfound flex characteristics.

Highly advanced suspension at both ends helped as well. Up front is a 43mm open-class version of the Big Piston Fork (BPF) found on last year’s comparo-dominating Ninja ZX-6R. Featuring a piston design nearly twice the size of a conventional cartridge fork, the BPF offers smoother action, less stiction, lighter overall weight and enhanced damping performance on the compression and rebound circuits. This added compliance results in more control and feedback for the rider – just what you need when carving through a rippled sweeper at your local track or negotiating a decreasing-radius corner on your favorite backroad.

There’s big suspension news in back, too. Replacing the vertical Uni-Trak® system of the 2010 ZX-10R is a Horizontal Back-Link suspension design that positions the shock and linkage above the swingarm. Benefits include better mass centralization, improved road holding, compliance and stability, smoother action in the mid-stroke (even with firmer settings), better overall feedback and cooler running. The design also frees space previously taken by the linkage assembly below the swingarm, space now used for the exhaust pre-chamber, which allows a shorter muffler and, again, better mass centralization. The fully adjustable shock features a piggyback reservoir and dual-range (low- and high-speed) compression damping.

All-new gravity-cast three-spoke wheels are significantly lighter than the hoops fitted to the 2010 bike. Up front, Tokico radial-mount calipers grasp 310mm petal discs and a 220mm disc is squeezed by a lightweight single-piston caliper in back. The result is powerful, responsive braking plenty of rider feedback.

Finally, Kawasaki engineers wrapped all this new technology in bodywork as advanced and stylish as anything on this side of a MotoGP grid. Shapes are more curved than edged this year, and the contrasting colored and black parts create a sharp, aggressive image. Line-beam headlights enable the fairing to be made shorter, while LED turn signals are integrated into the mirror assemblies and convenient turn-signal couplers allow easy mirror removal for track-day use.  The rear fender assembly holding the rear signal stalks and license plate frame is also easily removable for track days. High-visibility LED lamps are also used for the taillight and position marker.

Instrumentation is totally new as well, the unit highlighted by an LED-backlit bar-graph tachometer set above a multi-featured LCD info screen with numerous sections and data panels. A wide range of information is presented, including vehicle speed, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel consumption, Power Mode and S-KTRC level, low fuel, water temperature and much more. For track use, the LCD display can be set to “race” mode which moves the gear display to the center of the screen.

The new ZX-10R’s ergonomics have been fine tuned for optimum comfort and control, with a slightly lower saddle, adjustable footpegs positioned slightly lower and more forward relative to last year, and clip-ons with a bit less downward angle. This is a hard-core sportbike you can actually take on an extended sport ride – and still be reasonably comfortable doing so. And because it’s 22 pounds lighter than last year’s bike, the new ZX-10R will be quicker and more nimble in any environment you choose to ride it in.

The old saying, “power is nothing without control” is certainly apt where open-class sport bikes are concerned. But when you factor in all the engine, chassis and ergonomic control designed into the 2011 Ninja ZX-10R, you begin to realize you’re looking at one very special motorcycle – one that can take you places you’ve never been before.

Newer. Faster. Lighter. And better. Reality really does match the hype.