A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

Video: A Primer on Crossplane Crankshafts

02/04/2013 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Video: A Primer on Crossplane Crankshafts yamaha crossplane crankshaft 635x400

Reading through the comments on the Attack Kawasaki CRT bike and its new crossplane crank, it is clear that the concept of what makes an engine have a crossplane configuration, like the one found in the current Yamaha YZF-R1, is still a bit of an enigma for some motorcyclists.

Referring to the way a crankshaft is built, with the four crank pinks at 90° from each other, an inline-four engine with a crossplane configuration fires its four pistons in a different order, and with different intervals between ignitions, than a normal engine with 180° pin positions.

A subject we’ll broach in greater detail at a later time, we thought this video from Yamaha would at least highlight some of the major differences and reasons for using a crossplane crank in a sport bike motor. Enjoy it after the jump.

Source: Yamaha EU


  1. JohnEE says:

    I’m in the group that wanted to know more after the Kawi crt article. Thank you Jensen! Knowing is half the battle!

  2. We’ve got a new column in the works that I think you’ll really enjoy John. ;)

  3. motobell says:

    Thanks Jensen! for your upcoming column can you answer the following:

    1. It seems obvious when explained this way – but why has no one done this till recently – pure engineering challenge or other reasons (cons to this approach) – what is holding mass adoption across models and manufacturers
    2. Can you compare the engine characteristics of I4flat & crossplane to Twins (Ducatis), V4s(aprillia)
    3. What kind of bikes will best benefit – only sport or tour /street as well?

  4. The first one is easy, this is not the first time a crossplane crank has been used. I saw Michael Czysz tweeting earlier about how the MotoCzysz C1 used a crossplane, and of course GP bikes in the two-stroke era played with crossplane configurations.

  5. Paulo says:

    This is actually turning into an adult discussion………..and I like it! I too am interested in the answers to these questions as well, why only Yamaha, what are the cons? From a purely esthetic point of view………..the R1 sounds AWESOME!!!!!

  6. John O says:

    I’m sorry, but after watching that video “explanation”, I’m convinced the official line of why cross plane is better… is just so much BS.

    At the end of the day we want our bikes’ motors to produce tractable power delivery.

    If it’s a continuous series of pulses, then the rear wheel will constantly be hooking up and breaking free with every power pulse.

    If the power comes in a shorter series of pulses, the motor has a chance to “overpower” the rear wheel but then has a longer period of time to hook up and regain traction.

    Until someone can present me with a non-bs filled video that doesn’t talk about “shifting the paradigm” I’m going to stick with my theory.

  7. BBQdog says:

    This video was necessary Jensen, also for me, thanks.

  8. sburns2421 says:

    What the crossplane does (I assume Attack is similar to Yamaha) is allow the cylinder pairs to transfer their kinetic energy to one another (i.e. as one piston/rod assembly is slowing down, its neighbor is speeding up.)

    A typical inline four has all reciprocating mass at the same velocity for a given crank angle. Pistons reach max velocity at the same time and reach zero vertical velocity at the same time.

    The downside of the crossplane crank is a bit more difficult to manufacture (and maybe a bit heavier), and the engine should require a balance shaft or some other clever way of balancing the engine.

  9. Shawn says:

    @John O

    What that video just explained was that the crossplane crank reduces the magnitude of the “power pulse” and increasing it’s frequency, smoothing the rotational velocity of the crank and creating a much smoother torque delivery. Which increases tractability. Just like they claim.

    Your idea of the flatplane crank allowing the tires to hook up better (at a rate 500 pulses/s for the flatplane at 15000 rpm) isn’t practical and can be tested by looking at an engine dyno chart.

  10. Bruce J. says:

    sburns2421 explanation was better than the video.

  11. CTK says:

    John O.,

    You are forgetting, those power pulses are happening hundreds of times a second. The smoother the power delivery, the more “smeared” the power, which enables a slide to be propagated for longer once its initiated. With the herky jerky power delivery of a crossplane crank, a slide is less likely to happen, as its harder to propagate.

    I am not sold on crossplanes though. As orgasmic as the R1 sounds, it’s significantly heavier and less powerful than its competition. Still really not of concern to me, as its still a 150WHP bike, but that speaks to the inferiority of the technology in the real world. The hideous face of it ices the cake.

    Kawi’s CRT bike is NOT a crossplane though. From its sound I am more inclined to believe it is a big bang in the vein of the 2005 ZX-RR. It sounds like a raspy parallel twin… which also makes sense, given the connection to its long standing line of Twinjas (250R, 300R, 500R, 650R etc). Def not a glamorous MotoGP sound, but if it doesn’t shake itself apart at 15000 RPM it should make for similar power with better delievery. I’m looking forward to it.

  12. Paulo says:

    Hey John Oh……

    You don’t have to be sold on the R1; as you suggest “speaks to the inferiority of the technology in the real world”. My counter point. Why are we then talking about it? If you review Motorcycle USA article found here—> http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/9/13481/Motorcycle-Article/2012-Superbike-Smackdown-IX-Track.aspx your points are not clearly valid. 1st, If you take the high and low weight of the bikes they compare the R1 is 11lbs within the mean not considering the Ducati. Factoring in the Ducati the R1 is within 15lbs of the average weight. I’m sure you’ll agree the MV Augusta is a beautiful bike (to die for some would say)…..well it’s 475lbs……11bls heavier then an R1. Also using this article if you look at superpole numbers the R1 is under 2seconds from the best lap time! Maybe it’s me but are you trying to impose an opinion or fact? I’m sorry man but talk to Josh Hayes and Josh Herrin about what goes around faster around a track in the AMA circuit. You may not like the bike or even the crossplane technology however your opinion doesn’t have merit.

  13. jfc1 says:

    …it fires 1-3-2-4 just like my car. What’s to it?

  14. @Bruce J. +1

    It’s key to know that adjacent pairs’ pins are 90 from one another, not each consecutive pin.

    The music in the video comes across as improv jazz, i.e. all over the place, which is opposite to a “linear” explanation

  15. Cpt.Slow says:

    This still needs explaining ?

  16. John O says:

    The explanations offered here (smoother torque application, less likely to enter a slide, easier to control a slide) make far more sense than the marketing mumbo jumbo offered by that video.

    If it didn’t work… Why is MotoGP (or old-school 500 GP) using variants of this tech?

    More succinctly: I’m not claiming the crossplane doesn’t work. I’m just claiming Yamaha’s overly wordy explanation for how it works… doesn’t work ;)

  17. Zato says:

    Kevin Ash’s explanation of this subject was very good I thought – http://www.ashonbikes.com/cross-plane_crank

    Basically the crossplane configuration smooths out the inertial force of the crankshaft. Interestingly Kevin disputed the common explanation that it’s the firing order of big bang engines that produces better traction (as in each power ‘pulse’ being spaced further apart, giving the tire time to regain traction).

    Smoothing out the inertial torque of the crankshaft does smooth out power delivery however, so it could be said that the big bang firing order is more of a side effect to the actual aim of using a crossplane crank.

  18. Craig says:

    Forget the Crossplane… some here need to be put in the cross-hairs… :)

    It’s a great thing, for sound, if you have ridden one you’ll admit to the smoothness that the bike revs… almost rotary like… it feels wierd at first, but it’s very alluring in how it works. Faster, no, but 150 hp is cool for me.

    I think Yamaha said it best recently… out side of racing where you capatlize on strengths and cut the weaknesses; in the manufactured bike you have a little heavier motor and of course due to design, you have a much wider motor.
    For the common candidate… US; we would be fine and if you like it, you like it. I do agree with the ugly face syndrom, but the new one is much better IMHO.

    Ride one and take it for what it is… there is only one choice and it’s allowed Yamaha to compete pretty well in Moto GP and AMA and WSB and BSB…