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.

Living the Dream – A Photographer’s Story: Qatar

Imagine if just for once you didn’t have to stick to your usual nine-to-five job. Instead you were able to do the one job you’ve always wanted to do, but any number of things (it’s usually money) have stood in the way. This is exactly the situation I found myself in six months ago when the company I had worked at, for the last 14 years, decided to close, making everyone redundant. This decision did not come as a surprise; in fact, I had been hanging around for the last few years hoping that it would happen, as I had a plan. Fast-forward six months and I have just finished photographing the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar. The plan is starting to unfold.

Up-Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電)

05/31/2012 @ 10:15 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Up Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電) Mugen Shinden TT Zero 01 635x423

It is hard to believe that it was only last November that Mugen started its electric motorcycle racing program, and drafted the first designs of the Mugen Shinden (神電) motorcycle. In four months, the Japanese tuning brand, known better for its four-wheeled efforts than its two-wheeled ones, was proving its concept at Motegi with John McGuinness on-board, and had subsequent rounds at Suzuka and Caldwell Park. Mugen had of course been on the Isle of Man for the 2011 SES TT Zero race, and took close notes of its competitors, namely MotoCzysz and Kingston University.

Admitting that both aerodynamics and stored energy were key factors in its design, Mugen has clearly put more emphasis on the prior. While the team is tight-lipped about how much energy will be available to its 122 hp motor, they have said the battery pack weighs over 100 kg (220 lbs), which means it accounts for nearly half of the bike’s weight (and likely much more than that).

While we have seen plenty of photos of the Mugen motorcycle testing on the track, this has been the first time anyone from the non-Japanese press has been able to get up-close with the God of Electricity. The initial impression one gets from the Mugen Shinden is very favorable. The Shinden is proof that the electric motorcycle racing scene is growing up from its grassroots origins, as the bike has a very polished look and refined build quality to it — make no mistake, this is a very serious and proper racing motorcycle.

Weight has clearly been a concern for the team, as virtually everything is made out of carbon fiber. The lighter the chassis of course, the more batteries Mugen can stuff onto the frame, and it is here that the team hopes to gain an advantage over its competitors. Carbon frame, carbon swingarm, carbon bodywork, Showa suspension (with what looks to be Honda’s Pro-Link design), six-pot Nissin brakes…if the physical size of the bike didn’t give it away, the electrical leads would surely tell you this is not a MotoGP machine, despite all evidence to the contrary.

When pressed about the rumors linking the Mugen Shinden to Honda’s nearly decade-old electric motorcycle project, the team is quick to dismiss the idea. Ironically enough though, Mugen is pitted in the main pit area, right across the walkway from the Honda TT Legends tent. Where European and American eyes would see some sort of conspiracy, there is something very Japanese about the arrangement that is likely lost in translation. They may not be with each other, but that certainly does not mean they’re against each other.

Up Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電) Mugen Shinden TT Zero 21 635x423

Up Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電) Mugen Shinden TT Zero 04 635x423

Up Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電) Mugen Shinden TT Zero 11 635x423

Up Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電) Mugen Shinden TT Zero 28 635x423

Up Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電) Mugen Shinden TT Zero 22 635x423

Up Close with the Mugen Shinden (神電) Mugen Shinden TT Zero 14 635x423

Photos: © 2012 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

Comment:

  1. adam s says:

    wow. does THAT look the biz. those foot pegs just look weird without the complicated shift linkages and pedals.

    [how did they pass tech w/o a lipped belly pan? ;) ]

  2. tom z says:

    So I take it the rear brake is now on where the clutch used to be?

  3. Tuktu says:

    Let’s play with numbers!

    Bike’s weight is apparently around 260 kg… with lots of carbon. The battery pack is over 100 kg… I’d say 130 kg possibly. With a specific energy of at least 150 W-h/kg: We get almost a 20 kW-h pack. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a specific energy over 200 or 250 W-h/kg. (26 to 32 kW-h) Also the pack weight probably includes wiring and various circuits, but I still think they got over 20 kW-h in batteries. Even more conservatively, a 100 kg pack at 200 W-h/kg still gets you a 20 kW-h capacity!

    Me thinks it’s going to be fast! Although, I have a feeling they will be going for a target time… just enough to be the fastest!

  4. protomech says:

    Zero’s EIG batteries in the 2012 bikes are 175 Wh/kg (cell weight only).

    A pack that large can be lower power density; 5C discharge from a 20 kWh pack is still 100 kW.

    Packaging will add to the weight, though, so the pack might “only” be 150 Wh/kg = 133 kg.