Month: December 2014

Comment – Forget the Scrambler, this is the retro bike Ducati should have built

2008-Ducati-SportClassic-1000Bipostoa 49 DUCATI SCRAMBLER

Am I the only one who feels distinctly underwhelmed by Ducati’s new Scrambler? The world’s press are falling over themselves to heap praise on this entry-level 803cc air-cooled V-twin roadster, which was launched on the back of a massive ‘Land of Joy’ social media campaign.

There are four models in the range – the base Icon, the flat-track inspired Full Throttle, the Urban Enduro and the Classic. Ducati themselves say it’s not a Ducati, it’s a Scrambler, hoping to clearly define the bike as an entity in its own right, complete with extensive range of accessories and clothing.

And yet seeing the bike in the metal at Motorcycle Live at the NEC left me cold. It looked like a toy. It’s trying so hard to fit in the achingly cool, hip world of turns ups, beards, open face lids and checked shirts that every other sheep seems intent on following that it feels fake.

It’s trying too hard. It’s a shame really that Ducati ever stopped producing its Sport 1000 model, which was ahead of its time in combining modern reliability while echoing the styling of days gone by. That bike was stunning and was a proper tribute to the 70s. This is the bike we’re craving now, not the Scrambler. This is the bike they should have given us, an updated Sports 1000.

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McGhee set for TT debut with Wilson Craig Racing

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Reigning Irish Supersport Road Race Champion Derek McGee will make his Mountain Course debut at the 2015 Isle of Man TT Races.

The 28-year old has recently signed for Wilson Craig Racing team and will campaign Honda machinery in the Superbike, Senior, Superstock and Supersport races at the TT.

The Mullingar rider came to the fore in 2011 when he won races in the Irish Support Road Race Championship and has gone from strength to strength since, going on to establish himself as a front runner in the National Superbike, Supersport and Supertwin Road Race Championships.

The last two seasons have been his most successful to date, particularly 2014 when he clinched the Irish Supersport Road Race Championship helped by wins at Kells and Killalane and podiums at Cookstown, Tandragee, Skerries, Walderstown and Faugheen. He also more than proved his capabilities in the Superbike class with podiums coming at Cookstown, Tandragee and Kells while also finishing second overall in the Supertwins Championship.

On the International scene, McGee’s outings have so far been limited to the Ulster Grand Prix but he has certainly impressed, lapping at 126.607mph around the high-speed Dundrod course and taking a strong second place in this year’s second Supertwin Race.

Speaking during his first circuit learning trip on the Isle of Man with TT rider liaison officers John Barton and Richard Quayle recently Derek said: “The TT has been on my radar for some time and now feels like the right time to make my debut. Teaming up with Wilson Craig Racing makes the process a lot easier of course, and their experience will be invaluable. I’ve loved looking around the course this weekend and can’t wait to ride it. I’ve had a lot of help from John Barton and Richard Quayle and I intend on doing as much homework as I can ahead of making my debut in May.”

McGhee replaces Jamie Hamilton in the team and will make his debut at the NW200 in May.

Proven on track – BSB frontrunner Dan Linfoot talks about the kit the trusts

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_U9G1589 2014 BSB, BSB R02, Oulton Park, UK.

Daniel Linfoot, 26, is a racer who competes in the British Superbike Championship with Honda Racing UK.

Dan has been racing since 2002, when he began his racing career in the National Minibike Championsips, later moving up to the 125cc category in 2004. In 2005 Dan finished fourth in the standings. He then went on to ride in the World 250cc MotoGP championship in 2007 and the European Superstock in 2008.  minibikes, before joining BSB in 2009.

When he’s not racing, Dan can been seen coaching at the British Superbike School at Blyton Park in Gainsborough on his ZX10-R and also rides on the roads, having passed his test last year.

He’s had his share of big offs – he broke his pelvis on the last lap of the first BSB race of 2013 after falling off and being run over by James Westmoreland –  and knows what kit works and what doesn’t. Here he shares his hard-earned kit wisdom.

HELMET – “When you try a helmet on you need to make sure the fit is right – it doesn’t want to pinch your forehead, but it doesn’t want to be moving around on your head either. It wants to be snug but comfortable. And it needs to be comfortable and light – you don’t want a heavy helmet sapping your concentration and energy. It also needs to be protective, obviously, and offer excellent vision and ventilation. You need to be able to see as much as possible, and you don’t want to feel too hot or suffer with visor misting.”

“When I started racing I wore an Arai and it fitted me perfectly, but then they introduced the RX7-GP and changed the shape – the fit wasn’t as good and I just couldn’t get on with it. So I tried on various lids – AGV, Shark and Shoei – and was blown away by the Shoei. It and the best combination of fit, vision, ventilation and comfort. And I couldn’t get over how light it was. So I bought one and I’ve stuck with them. This season is the first one I’ve been given free race helmets by Shoei, so that’s not the reason I wear them. I wear them because they fit my head, the field of vision is excellent, they’re pretty quiet and the lining is comfortable. But the most important reason I wear them is because I know that they work – I’ve and a couple of massive smashes in them and I’ve walked away without as much as a headache.”

LEATHERS – “The first thing I look for in leathers is the material. I want them to be tough. If I go sliding down the road I want to know that they’ll be strong, so I wear kangaroo skin leathers. Kangaroo offers the best of both worlds – it’s incredibly strong but also really supple.

“Fit and comfort are also crucial. When you’re on the bike you want everything to sit where it should – you don’t want any tightness on the arms causing arm pump, and you don’t want them so loose that they start flapping at speed – that just saps energy, concentration and takes your focus away from the track. That’s why I prefer my leathers to be perforated. I move around there bike a lot when I’m racing and I don’t want to get too hot, so a good flow of air is a must.

“They also need to be protective. I’m a big fan of chunky external armour on the shoulder, elbows and knees. I’ve got some scuffs on the metal sliders on my elbows, though I’m only elbow down when I’m testing in Spain.

“I’m currently racing in a set of made-to-measure Prexport leathers that are badged as Weise, and they crash well. I’ve had two crashes in a set and they’re still good to wear. Obviously, some of the sponsors’ badges are a bit a sorry looking, but the suit itself is fine for racing in the wet.

“I’ve since switched to Dainese and they’re just as good.”

BOOTS – “I want my boots to be comfortable. Your feet take a lot of punishment on the bike, so I prefer boots that are comfortable. They also need to be protective. I wear Sidi Vortice boots – they offer the right blend of fit, protection and comfort. They’re light, quite well ventilated and reassuringly protective – yes, the closing system is fiddly and takes a bit of time, but you know that they’re not going anywhere once they’re on. And they’re tough. I know that if I crash they’re still going to be good – I’ll only get through three sets a year.

“And they’re really, really comfortable. You don’t really notice you’re wearing them.

“The only downside is the squeak that develops around the ankle joint. They all do it, though a bit of WD40 soon sorts that out.”

GLOVES – “Obviously your hands have a massive role to play on the bike, controlling both the throttle and brake, so gloves need to be supple and offer lots of feel.

“I wear Weise gloves and they’re pretty impressive – they feature sturdy Knox armour in all the key areas and a lot of stretch panels for added comfort.  I give them to my dad to wear and break them in for me so that they’re just so for when I race. I’m quite fussy when it comes to wearing gloves, and am reluctant to throw old gloves away. I’ll probably get through three a season.”

BACK AND CHEST PROTECTORS – “I wear a standard off the peg Dainese wave back protector that you can buy in the shops. I bought it five year ago and it’s so thin you don’t notice you’re wearing it. I always wear one, both on the track and on the road on my ZX-10R. A lot of back protectors these days are so thick – they trend seems to be to make them thicker and thicker – that they feel awkward and obtrusive in race leathers but try them on under your kit and see what’s right for you. They work, and I’d urge everyone to wear one.

“I haven’t tried a chest protector yet, but I’m going to be experimenting with one this season.”

BASELAYERS – “I’d urge everyone to try a compression top – they’re brilliant. It felt really strange when I first wore one, but now they’re one of my most important pieces of kit. I can’t ride without one. They keep you comfortable under your leathers, keep you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold, and they make it easier and quicker to get into and out of your leathers.

“ I normally wear a short sleeved Proskins top and I can’t recommend them highly enough.”

EARPLUGS – “A lot of racers don’t wear earplugs because they want to hear the noise the engine’s making, but I’m not one of them. I prefer shutting the noise out as best I can so I can focus on what’s going on ahead of me.

“I’ve tried personalised earplugs but just couldn’t get on with them. I had two sets made up, by two different manufactures, but the results were the same. I couldn’t put them on without looking in the mirror, they’re just too fiddly, and when they were in, the side of the helmet would press against them, forcing them deeper into my ear as the race went on. They were actually quite painful so I went back to wearing disposables.

“ I wear Max Lite and a set will last me day.”

STOMP GRIPS – “I can’t rate these highly enough and I’d urge everyone to fit a set too their bike. They’re great for gripping on corner entry as they let you support the weight of your upper body by allowing you to lock your knee on to the tank. I hate sliding about in the seat, and these pads help me a lot when braking.”

News: 2014 Bike of the Year

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This year has been dominated by the launch of state-of-the-art sportsbikes, bringing much interest to what was a flagging sector of the market.

Our Bike of the Year was going to be the Honda RC213V-S – essentially a MotoGP bike with lights on. It features a 90-degree V4 producing some  210bhp and the chassis, swingarm, wheels, suspension, crankcases, fuel tank, tank cover, throttle bodies and seat unit from the Honda Factory bikes that Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa race.

In the flesh it looks stunning, especially with the lush paintwork on the carbon bodywork, but it’s far from finished. The mirrors and switchgear have clearly been raided from the spare parts bin, the dash was just a sticker and it’s rumoured it will cost more than £200,000 if it ever enters production.

So, the Bike of the Year award goes to another Japanese sportsbikes instead, one that is more attainable, is just as gorgeous in the metal and drew the biggest crowds at Motorcycle Live – no, it’s not Kawasaki’s 300 bhp H2R, it’s Yamaha’s YZF-R1.

The new R1 has been inspired by the YZF-M1 and it shows – it produces 197bhp, weighs just 199kg fully fuelled and boasts a state-of-the art electronics package that uses 92 per cent of the factory’s MotoGP electronics as used on Rossi’s and Lorenzo’s race bikes – it has the first ever six-axis Intertial Measurement Unit on a production bike, banking sensitive traction control, slide control, wheelie control, quick shifter, launch control, ABS and a unified braking system.

Other eye-catching features include a trick TFT dash, 10-spoke magnesium wheels, all-new KYB suspension, a titanium exhaust system, an aluminium fuel tank and Deltabox frame. The bike is powered by a 998cc inline four cylinder crossplane crankshaft engine kicking out some 197bhp without the use of ram induction.

The crossplane engine’s uneven 270° – 180° – 90° – 180° firing sequence gives each piston and conrod its own individual and separate movement to create stronger low to mid range grunt. The engine is fitted with titanium fracture-split connecting rods, which is 40% lighter than steel, and this major reduction in weight gives the new engine an extremely responsive and potent character at high revs.

The bike looks beautifully finished and the attention to detail is exquisite. The controversial styling, maligned by many when the bike was launched, look good in the metal and give the bike a purposeful, menacing and distinctive look. The masses at the NEC agreed, with crowds six-deep gathering to gain a glimpse at this new icon.

And the best bit? All this is yours for £15,000. The bike is expected to hit dealers in March. We can’t wait…

KTM’s junior cup series is ready to race

KTM RC 390 Cup Santander 2015 c

KTM UK has opened entries to the 2015 KTM British Junior Cup after confirming bike prices.

An RC390 Cup bike will be £6245 plus VAT while the entry fee is £2100. This can be which can be split over four payments with a £300 registration fee and any competitors signing up before January 16 receive a free set of spare wheels.

The series, which is promoted by MSVR and is a one-make support series for the British Superbike Championship, will be open to 13-18-year-olds and has been created to provide an equal and level playing field for emerging talent. The racing will be contested over eight events incorporating 20 points-scoring races. There will also be two official tests, subject to confirmation, which are scheduled to take place in March 2015.

The race specification bikes are only available from KTM dealers and come fitted with a wide range of performance-enhancing KTM PowerParts, such as fully adjustable WP Suspension and an Akrapovic race exhaust.

For more details visit http://www.bsbteams.com or email info@ktm.co.uk with RC390 Cup 2015 in the subject line.

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All I want for Christmas…

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The Bimota WSBK team has put its 2014 race bikes up for sale.

The bikes, Badovini’s factory WSBK-spec Bimota BB3 (€65,000), Badovini’s EVO-spec Bimota BB3 (€45,000), and Iddon’s EVO-spec Bimota BB3 (€45,000), were all raced by Team Alstare in the 2014 World Superbike Championship.

The team gave a good account of itself all season, though its results were thrown out when the Bimota Factory announced it was unable to produce enough bikes to meet homologation numbers for the 2014 season.

Interested parties should contact Greg at Team Alstare: greg@alstare.com.

Proven on track – Marc VDS Factory Honda rider shares his hard-earned kit wisdom

_gh24310 0825_P12_Redding.2014 1557_R12_Redding.2014 2014 MotoGP R10, Indianapolis, USA

Scott Redding began his racing career at the tender age of eight, racing in the British Minimoto Championship in 2001. Just three years later he scooped the MiniGP British Championship, an achievement followed up by winning all six rounds of the Spanish Calypso Cup 80cc series.

After switching to the Spanish 125GP series and finishing the season in seventh, Scott signed for the BQR Blusens Aprilia team in 2007 and finished second in the championship after winning the final three races of the season.

After switching to the 125cc world championship in 2008, Scott made history in front of a delighted Donington crowd as he became the youngest rider of all-time to win a Grand Prix race (aged 15 years and 170 days), taking the record from Marco Melandri. Scott was the 2008 125cc Rookie of the Year, finishing 11th overall.

Scott jumped on a factory bike for 2009 as he continued with the Blusens Aprilia, but his physique and sheer size meant results conspired against him and results were hard to come by.

In 2010 he switched classes and signed for the Marc VDS Team in Moto2, and though it took time to adapt he finished the season strongly, securing 8th place in the standings. 2011 was equally frustrating, but Scott fared better in 2012, racking up four podium finishes on his way to fifth in the standings.

And 2013 saw Scott enjoy his best season in Moto2, winning the Grand Prix of France, Italy and Great Britain and leading the championship before a horrible crash during qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix left him with a broken left wrist, effectively handing the title to rival Pol Espargarò.

Scott made the jump to the elite class in 2013, riding an Open Class Honda for the Gresini squad. His results and racecraft were impressive, and Scott regularly outscored seasoned campaigners and former world champions Nicky Hayden and Hiro Ayoma on the same equipment.

His skill caught the attention of HRC, who will be providing Scott with a Factory bike for the 2015 season. Scott’s never-quit attitude and gung-ho riding style means he’s had his fair share of big (and painful) offs during his career, so he knows what works and, just as importantly, what doesn’t. He shared his kit wisdom with us one morning at a cold and windy Silverstone.

HELMET:

“The priority for me is protection. You only get one head, so you need to do everything you can to protect it. My advice is to buy the best helmet you can afford.

“A lot of racer’s go with the helmet manufacturer that will pay them the most money, and often that’s not best helmet. I’ve had massive offers in front of me to wear this lid or that, but I’ve turned them down, as I’m only interested in quality.

“Protection is the most important for me, followed closely by vision. When you come off you’re going to hit the ground hard, so you need to know everything’s going to work. For example, it’s no good having a strong shell but a weak visor. If a visor comes off when you crash that’s not going to end well as you’ll either get hit in the face by flying stones or a handlebar.

“My helmet is an off-the-peg lid, the same as my replica you can buy. The only big difference is that it has been raised so it sits higher on my head to make it easier for me to see when I’m tucked in a racing crouch. It’s also a bit tighter to cope with the higher speeds we do in GP.”

LEATHERS:

“Having light leathers is one thing, but they need to be strong too. If you come off at 180mph, it’s going to be a big one, and you need to know your leathers aren’t going to hole or burst.

“I also prefer my leathers to be tight. I don’t want them flapping around, taking my attention away from the track. But I don’t want them to be so tight as to restrict my movement.

“I wear an Alpinestars Air Tech suit, complete with airbag. I noticed the extra bulk at first, but after a couple of times wearing it I couldn’t notice anything different.

“My suit is Kangaroo leather as it offers the perfect combination of flexibility and strength. It’ll stretch but it’s strong too, and it doesn’t abrade easily.

“I prefer suits with external armour on the shoulders, elbow and knees so that you keep sliding and don’t dig into the tarmac. But it’s got to fit – if the armour moves around, then it’s not going to offer any protection as it’ll move and not do it’s job.

“The exciting thing from my point of view about Alpinestars is that they’re always listening to rider’s feedback and constantly evolving and improving their products. Take the airbag technology. When I first started wearing their airbag suit in 2013, the system weighed 1.5kg. Now it weighs 0.8kg. It’s clever too. In the past there were occasions when it went deployed when it shouldn’t, because it thought the rider was having a crash, when in reality it was just a moment. But by analysing the data they’ve ironed this out and it now works faultlessly – it will only deploy when you’re beyond the point of no return.

“Another good thing about this system is that it employs two canisters, which means it can deploy twice before it needs replacing.

“Being an Alpinestars Factory supported rider means I can get my suit tweaked to my exact requirements. I like to have them a bit looser in the arms, so they take this into account, and all my sponsors logos rate printed directly onto the suit instead of being stitched on, which makes a massive difference to comfort.”

BOOTS:

“I like my boots to have lots of feel and flex, but still be protective too. And they need to be comfortable as you put all your weight through your feet, and with most races lasting some 40 minutes, that can make a big difference.

“I wear Supertech Rs. They’re superb, have superb amounts of movement and are as comfy as wearing slippers. They have an outer boot and an inner boot and they offer loads of protection. There’s lots of chunky plastic around the ankle, the inner boot is reassuringly protective, the sole has loads of flex and if you crash lots of parts can be replaced quickly and easily as nearly everything is replaceable.

“I have had people hitting my feet and even running over them on track and I’ve got away with it without as much as a scratch – they work.”

GLOVES:

“I need my gloves to be comfortable and offer decent levels of feel. Your hands communicate a lot with the bike and control pretty much everything – the throttle, the brakes and the bars. You need to be able to feel exactly what’s going on and what your inputs are.

“But they also need to offer decent levels of protection. It’s not good them being too light or too thin – you can’t sacrifice protection for lightness and comfort.

“I wear Alpinestars and the good thing about them is that the little finger and ring finger are joined, which makes it harder for your to break your finger. A lot of other gloves don’t have this feature and the rider’s pay the price – just look at the what Bradley Smith’s done to his finger.”

BACK AND CHEST PROTECTORS:

“I can’t imagine not wearing either. There’s no excuse not to wear either these days as they’ve come on leaps and bounds, and got smaller, stronger and more comfortable.

“I’ve never really got my head around people not wanting to do as much as possible to protect themselves and their vulnerable areas like under the arms, the chest and so on. Your ribcage can’t protect your vital organs and stomach, and you’re spine is critical too, so I’ll do everything I can to protect myself as best I can.

“Yes, it’s a bit different when you wear them at first, but you soon forget they’re there.”

BASE LAYERS:

“These are a godsend. They make it quick and easy to get leathers on and off, and they keep you comfortable on the bike. They regulate your core temperature by wicking away the sweat in hot conditions, and preventing heat loss in cold conditions. They make a huge difference to comfort.”

PADDED CYCLING SHORTS:

“I started getting pain in my arse cheeks in 2011 for some reason. I still have no idea why or what had changed to trigger it. Anyway, we played about with different seats on the bike but it made not a blind bit of difference. Then I started wearing padded cycling shorts and they made a huge difference. I’ve not had a cheek problem since. They’re just so comfortable that I always ride with pair.”

The 2015 season kicks off in Qatar on March 29. dg2_9187

MotoGP – Laverty relishing riding in premier class

_W282198 2015 Drive M7 Aspar 001 MotoGP Test Preseason Valencia

Eugene Laverty returns to the Grand Prix paddock in 2015 after a seven-year absence full of confidence.

The twice WSBK runner-up, who has signed to race for the DRIVE M7 Aspar team for 2015, is confident he’ll make the transition to MotoGP machinery quickly and insists he is ready to shake up the premier class.

He says: “This is a top level team, which they have proved over the years, and the bike will be a big step forward from last year so I didn’t need to think about it much. DRIVE M7 Aspar Team have given me the opportunity I have been waiting a long time for.

“The first time I rode the Honda I could tell it was a true racing prototype. I really liked the riding position and its size and weight are perfect for me, I fit really well on the bike.

“Watching it from the side of the track I could see that it had good acceleration in corner exit. Once I got on it I felt it was comfortable but it is too early to comment on its strengths. My first impression is that I like the way you can get into the corners fast, get the bike stopped and then pick it up and exit quickly. You could say it is quite easy to attack the corners on the Honda.”

Laverty welcomes the chance to ride alongside 2006 MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden and admits he can learn a thing or two from his experienced team-mate.

He says: “I know Nicky from when I rode in 250cc, seven years ago. He was always friendly and nice with me. He is a very focused individual who works hard, but he’s also charming and genuine. We both come from families of motorcycle racers and we have grown up in competitive environments, so I guess we are similar in that way. The biggest way he can help me is obviously in terms of sharing data. Nicky has been a MotoGP rider for a long time so I am sure I can learn a lot from him.”

The 2015 season kicks off in Qatar on March 29.

MotoGP – Hayden upbeat for 2015

nicky-hayden-00-honda-production-racer-motogp-aspar-team-tests-sepang-2014-7 ASPARGPASSEN2014_14

Nicky Hayden is confident that the new RC213V-RS will be competitive after enduring a difficult season on the underpowered RCV1000R in 2014.

The Drive M7 Aspar pilot, who was also sidelined for four races after having an operation to remove three bones from his wrist, believes the new bike and his rehabilitated wrist will allow him to close the gap to the Factory and Satellite bike next season.

The 2006 MotoGP champion, said: “I am sure we will be more competitive in 2015 than we were last season. There is still some development to be done with the electronics but I think we are on the right path. We had a great chassis last season but we were down on power. The new Honda RC213V-RS has quite a lot of horsepower, which will help us close the gap to the guys at the front. Until we have had more time to test it I can’t really give much more of an opinion, but the first impression suggests that we have a solid base to work from.

“This will be my second season with the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team and my main objective is to enjoy riding again. I don’t want to talk about last season anymore, it’s over. I am focused on getting back to full fitness, riding like I know I can and getting some good results to put 2014 behind us.”

Hayden is confident his wrist injury won’t hold him back in 2015.

He said: “I feel better every day. It wasn’t easy to get back on the bike after the type of surgery I went through. It was a serious operation, they had to remove three bones from my wrist. I was able to control the pain and ride again, even though I wasn’t back to my normal level, but gradually I recovered strength and feeling. It is good for me that the season is over because it’s a chance to continue the recovery. Since the end of the season I have been having injections of platelet-rich plasma. I have let my hand rest but I have also been doing a lot of work with the physic.”

Hayden’s best result in 2014 was an 8th place at the season opener in Qatar and he finished the standings in 16th place with 47 points.

News – Is this the future of motorcycle helmets?

04 Skully HUD helmet 05 Skully HUD helmet

This is the Skully AR-1, a high-tech, intelligent helmet which gives a tantalising view of the shape of things to come for head protection.

The lid features a near 180-degree rearview camera, allowing riders to constantly monitor what’s happening behind them and in their blind spots without having to move their heads or perform shoulder checks. This view is then displayed outside of the rider’s primary field of view in a heads-up display that appears like a floating transparent rectangle on the right side of the shell. The display itself is translucent, and when it’s switched you can see right through it as if it’s not there.

The hardware is mounted inside the fin that runs from the top of the helmet towards the rear. Other features include GPS navigation, Bluetooth, speakers, a microphone and voice control. The built-in battery that powers the display and electronics lasts about nine hours, according to the manufacturers. And adding a Bluetooth transceiver to your bike allows the helmet to read all sorts of data – revs, fuel level etc – leaving the rider free to keep their eyes on t he road ahead at all times.

Another useful feature is the electrochromic visor, which allows the rider to change the visor from clear to tinted at the push of a button. As well as blocking out the sun, this also increases the visibility of the HUD.

The helmet itself is extremely lightweight and aerodynamic, and is made from a tri-composite shell. It also has extensive ventilation, a quick relase chin strap and uses laser cut foam to provide a comfortable fit.

The helmet will be available to buy from May 2015. The future’s here….