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.

This is the Mugen Shinden (神電) TT Zero Electric Race Bike

03/02/2012 @ 9:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

This is the Mugen Shinden (神電) TT Zero Electric Race Bike Mugen TT Zero unveiling 635x476

UPDATE: Added more information & technical specifications from Mugen’s press release.

This morning we learned that John McGuinness will be Mugen’s rider in the team’s bid to break the 100 mph barrier at the 2012 TT Zero. Heavily speculated to be a stealth project by Honda (無限 / Mugen was started by Hirotoshi Honda, the son to Honda founder Soichiro Honda), much speculation has been done over what sort of bike Mugen would be bringing to the Isle of Man TT, and now we have that answer.

Called Shinden (神電), meaning “God of Electricity” in Japanese, the machine may not have the same exquisite lines of the Honda RC-E electric superbike concept, but upon closer inspection, Mugen’s electric race bike seems like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Breaking cover at a press conference in Suzuka, the Mugen Shinden features a brushless three-phase 90 kW (120hp) DC motor, carbon fiber swingarm, and a carbon fiber twin-spar frame design.

So far we have no information on Mugen’s battery pack capacity (voltage is said to be over 370 volts though), but we do know that the Shinden will have a curb weight 570 lbs, meaning that a consinderable amount of battery is likely on-board the race bike. Looking at these photos (apologies for how small they are), we can see that Mugen is not using a concentric motor/swingarm, as was used with the Honda RC-E concept. The braking controls have been moved completely to the handlebars, and will operate the Nissin brake calipers, while suspension is unsurprisingly done by Showa, another Honda-owned company.

Technical Specifications of the Mugen Shinden Electric Motorcycle:

Name: Shinden (神電)
Length: 2,125 mm
Width: 680 mm
Height: 1,130 mm
Wheelbase: 1,485 mm
Ground clearance: 130 mm
Seat height: 840 mm
Curb weight: 260 kg / 573 lbs
Caster angle: 23°
Trial length: 96 mm
Tire (Front): 120/70-ZR17M/C (58W)
Tire (Rear): 200/550ZR17M/C (78W)
Frame: CFRP Twin-Spar-Type
Motor Type: Three Phase Brushless DC motors
Horsepower: 90kW / 120hp
Torque: 220Nm / 162 lbs•ft
Battery: Lithium-ion Battery
Battery output: 370V or more

Source: Autoby.jp & Yukky.txt-nifty.com


  1. Dr. Gellar says:

    Glad to see Mugen will be competing their own bike, and not the Honda RC-E or a rebadged Mission R. I am a little surprised…the 120hp output of their motor doesn’t seem like a whole lot when compared to the outputs Lightning, MotoCzysz and Mission are likely capable of producing. Nonetheless, it’s good to finally get a first impression of what Mugen is bringing to the TT Zero table.

  2. You know, Mission only rates it’s motor at 100 kW (13o hp)…

  3. Just to be a pain, Mission’s spec sheet claims “141hp” motor and a “100kW” controller. Even though elsewhere it says a 100kW motor. Also, don’t forget Mission was only just 2 kph off of Lightnings top speed on the front straight of Laguna. And we know the Lightning had probably at least 200hp at the time. I think by the time they were done, the Mission guys had eeked a whole lot more power out of their batteries.

    Anyway, MotoCzysz had a 95+kW motor in 2010. Look, they may be claiming the manufacturers rating. And IF that is the case, just because it is rated at 90kW doesn’t mean they aren’t going to over watt the thing to death.

    That motor looks familiar. It’s bugging the crap out of me but I’m probably just seeing things . . . again. :D

  4. Dr. Gellar says:

    I didn’t know…thanks for the tip. I’ll admit I’m not in the know on the kilowattage of the motors of all the major players, but if Lightning and MotoCzysz claim their machines last year could produce 200+hp (even if that is purely peak hp), I’m just not confident a 90kW motor is going to get the job done. I may end up being totally wrong, but I get the impression (purely a gut-feeling) that the kind of performance the Mugen will likely have may be in the ballpark to or slightly better than what the Brammo RR and Munch machines were getting last year, and those bikes got trounced by Mission, MotoCzysz and Lightning at Laguna. But we’ll see what happens… :-)

  5. The power issue is being taken completely out of context.

    Having 10,000 hp won’t make a stick of difference if you cannot deliver that power into the ground. Motorcycles suffer from a very tiny contact patch with the road, and no tire currently made can handle the type of figures some American electric motorcycle manufacturers claim. At last year’s Isle of Man, Michael Czysz admitted that his bike was tuned to output a constant 80hp.

    At the end of the day, a successful vehicle system is about way more than just horsepower. The complete package, from handling to reliable, predictable and tractable power are far more important, and a lot harder to achieve than just cranking out big dyno numbers.

    I just wish Honda wasn’t so subtle and just branded it Honda. Soichiro would never have been afraid to fail.

  6. Walt says:

    The output of the motor is almost solely dependent on the voltage and current limited by the controller.
    The IOM race for electric bikes is an efficiency race. It doesn’t make sense to crank up the power to maximum, charge off to a big lead, only to run out of battery power before the finish line.

    Battery power density is the limiting factory, so the overall power of the motor is adjusted high enough to win, but low enough to finish. I’m certain that the motor/controller/battery combination is capable of much higher outputs in a sprint race setup.

  7. We don’t know what it weighs, but we can see from the svelte overall package that its weight will be in the same ballpark as the bikes that raced on the IoM last year. 120 horsepower, at anything remotely resembling equivalency with a ’120 hp’ ICE bike is more than enough to get the job done, assuming that it’s available at the rider’s will – the way it is on an ICE bike until it runs out of gas.

    McGuinness: The upside is that for him, 100 mph TT laps feel like a ride to the shops. That said, I’m not sure that his enormous TT skills on ICE bikes confer any real advantage over any number of other riders on a machine with drastically different weight/power characteristics and possibly a need for adaptive strategy and riding style.

    All in all, if I had to bet on a TT Zero winner right now, I suppose I’d pick the Mugen… My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that Honda’s already seen the inner workings of the Mission; that’s based on Mission’s involvement with a Honda hybrid race car here in the U.S. I don’t think Honda really did that to learn from Mission, per se, as much as a kind of due diligence. The probably just looked around and wondered, Who should we benchmark ourselves against?..

    A note from the Dept. of Minor Disappointments: Couldn’t we see a beautiful carbon exoskeleton for the battery, incorporating mounting points for a Parker-style RADD front end, at least?

    I understand the argument that, at the TT especially, you want to control for the unexpected, and that the old-fashioned fork is the devil we know. Still, we’re still sticking so steadfastly to a basic machine architecture that evolved as the result of a slew of evolutionary developments from the 19th c. Rover Safety Bicycle.

    I fear that, now that we’re not designing on paper, we’ll _never_again_ start from a clean sheet…

  8. @Mark Gardiner – all risk mitigation, my friend. in any project, regardless of market, using revolutionary features vs. tried & true not only doubles risk, but triples engineering time and resources required to develop & test adequately. And, if the bike is slow, those revolutionary features will get a bad rap, even if they had nothing to do with failure.

    I agree, though, cf is like cowbell, you always need more.

    @Walt – totally agree, IOM is all about energy on board & how efficiently the electrical energy is converted to kinetic mechanical, including aero, rolling resistance, & drivetrain losses. it will be interesting to see who comes out ahead.

  9. Nishant K says:

    The Power of the motors doesn matter at all no one will go beyond 70-80wK power, the batteries will be drained in half the race… check out Charge -Movie… it doesn’t even matter how much torque you have… Oxford Yasa’s in Ecotricity had 700nm but it didn’t make any sense in the road race( different results on the track tho)…. its the Battery pack…. anything less than 12-13kW is nt suitable and more than that is of no use…. Everything at the end depends on what package you are having… Motoczysz’s bike weighed a lot even if it was mostly 3D printed….they could have managed 100mph if they had less weight and more batteries…

  10. Added some information from Mugen’s press release. 570 lbs curb weight, 370V system, and it has the God of Electricity on its side.

  11. I think the biggest issue for McGuinness is that riding one of these things compared to an inline-4 ICE would be kind of equivalent to the difference between the old 2-stroke big-bang versus the razor-thin powerband engines. The power and torque available will take some adjusting, but I suspect the power delivery to actually be easier to manage (assuming they’ve got the electronics adjusted to soften delivery at the initial twist just a tad).

  12. Woody says:

    I’d rather see MotoSizzzzzz or Lightning take the 100+mph lap reward than a huge manufacturer, to be honest. They’ve both been in it longer, and I just like to root for the underdog and wouldn’t mind seeing the Mugen fail spectacularly.

  13. Damo says:

    The more manufactures involved in the electric bike race the happier I am. If anyone can break the 100mph ave it will be McGuinness.

  14. Dr. Gellar says:

    Alriiiighty…thanks for the education folks.

  15. Marc F says:

    Awesome. Great to see the bike boys throw their hat into the ring. IOM times for electrics are a pure function of how much battery you can shoehorn in there, thus the smallest possible engine… more room for battery. At that weight they’re probably squeezing north of 15kWh in there, maybe more since who knows what battery tech Honda has access to. That’s definitely enough to break 100mph. The startups have figured that out too, so I don’t think Honda will be the only ones to break 100, and they may not be the fastest thing out there.

    As for ridability, these bikes are REALLY easy to ride. There isn’t much if any of a learning curve. It’s so natural and reductive the only adaptation is figuring out what to do with all of the excess mental power you can concentrate on other things like braking points and rear tire action. The rider’s challenge is figuring out the circuit as a coasting race… I’ll be really curious to watch how McGuinness adapts.

  16. Brushless, 3-phase, DC. That’s unusual in TTXGP/TTZero, isn’t it?

  17. Kyle G says:

    Video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiIDqEjcDp4

    Julian, a Brushless DC is a form of AC motor which is similiar to what Lightning and Motoczysc run.

  18. Eric says:

    Carbon fiber frame & swingarm, and still 570lbs… sounds like they’ve got a BIG battery pack, probably more than any of their competitors. The TT should be really interesting this year!

  19. frijole says:

    so no regenerative braking? I would think it would help boost life by capturing braking energy for re-use.. I guess its not worth the extra unsprung weight?

  20. finance says:

    I plan to send this to my mom we were just talking about this this week!