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.

O2 Pursuit – An Air-Powered Dirt Bike

12/15/2011 @ 2:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

O2 Pursuit   An Air Powered Dirt Bike 02 Pursuit compressed air dir bike Dean Benstead 17 635x423

It doesn’t really matter whether electric motorcycles are the next thing in two-wheeled transportation/recreation, because the door has been opened for an honest debate about the permanence of internal combustion engines (ICE) in our future motorcycles. One of the bi-products of this rare “think outside the box” moments in motorcycling is the idea that compressed air could be a viable energy source to replace gasoline. I have to admit as PADI certified diver, the idea has always seemed extremely far-fetched to me whenever I’ve heard it brought up.

I have played with small-scale compressed-air cars before, and even at a larger scale there would appear to be issues of energy density, efficiency, storage safety, and of course refueling that crop up as potential deal-breakers. That being said, the concept still has some legs as there are ways to work around these many of these constraints. It’s that potential that surely was propelling (oh, god) Dean Benstead, a design student at Australia’s venerable RMIT.

Given a DiPietro air engine by the folks at Engineair, Benstead was tasked with making a viable two-wheeler that would be use a standard scuba tank as an energy storage device. Getting some help from Yamaha Australia, who donated a Yamaha WR250R to the cause, the 02 Pursuit concept is very compelling with its 140 km/h top speed, though knowing the math involved, we’re not sure if it will replace your petrol bike anytime soon.

My immediate mathematical concerns go to the limited “fuel” storage possible on a motorcycle’s form factor, and the potential energy density issues that accompany a compressed-air power system as a source for locomotion. Relatively speaking, a standard scuba tank holds at a maximum of .675 kWh of energy (300 bars of pressure in a 18 liter tank). When you consider that a bike like the BRD RedShift SM has 5.2 kWh of battery power on-board, a motorcycle with less than 1kWh seems less intriguing, especially with the highly-efficient systems used by electrics.

I’ll admit I’m not as well-versed on air engines, but I can’t imagine that they run at the same efficiency levels as electric motors (typically 90+% efficient), and even if they do, having 1/5th of the on-board power is going to be extremely limiting on range. Of course larger tanks can be made, and denser air pressures can be achieved with better tanks designs. Getting to a suitable energy factor for urban use however, is going to take some serious work.

At 18 liters, the 02 Pursuit is already equivalent to the tank size of modern ICE motorcycles, and realistically it will be very challenging to even just double the volume of air stored on such a design. This means in order to achieve figures ideal for real-world use, the gains will have to come from increased air pressure. While scuba tanks are extremely safe, when we start talking about 2x, 3x, on up to 5x the air pressure currently used for diving, the design requirements are going to be extremely challenging.

I’ve clearly digressed from Benstead’s 02 Pursuit at this point, which is shame because the motorcycle is very well thought out design-wise. The purpose of this build was to explore the idea of air-powered motorcycles, and it does very convincingly. Perhaps the perfect pit bike at a track day, we’d ride one for sure. But as a replacement for an ICE dirt bike? I’m not convinced (though I’d ride one in a heartbeat). A bevy of build and design images are below, enjoy.

O2 Pursuit   An Air Powered Dirt Bike 02 Pursuit compressed air dir bike Dean Benstead 15 635x423

O2 Pursuit   An Air Powered Dirt Bike 02 Pursuit compressed air dir bike Dean Benstead 10 635x423

O2 Pursuit   An Air Powered Dirt Bike 02 Pursuit compressed air dir bike Dean Benstead 03 635x455

O2 Pursuit   An Air Powered Dirt Bike 02 Pursuit compressed air dir bike Dean Benstead 07 635x329

O2 Pursuit   An Air Powered Dirt Bike 02 Pursuit compressed air dir bike Dean Benstead 09 635x476

O2 Pursuit   An Air Powered Dirt Bike 02 Pursuit compressed air dir bike Dean Benstead 25 635x357

O2 Pursuit   An Air Powered Dirt Bike 02 Pursuit compressed air dir bike Dean Benstead 16 635x280

O2 Pursuit   An Air Powered Dirt Bike 02 Pursuit compressed air dir bike Dean Benstead 23 635x477

O2 Pursuit   An Air Powered Dirt Bike 02 Pursuit compressed air dir bike Dean Benstead 20 635x143

Source: 02 Pursuit Blog via Two Wheels Blog

Comment:

  1. Chris Brandow says:

    Higher pressure tanks are available and could double or triple stores energy at same volume pretty safely. Fairly routine for labs. Though I don’t drive my lab on dirt tracks.

  2. Cameron C says:

    It is great to see this kind of creativity. It will be interesting to see where it goes. Hopefully a video surfaces soon.

  3. Chris, do you know what bar/psi they go up to?

  4. steve says:

    From Wikipedia on dive tanks…
    United States Department of Transportation rules presently prohibit the transport of metal scuba cylinders on public roads with pressures above about 230 bar, even if the cylinders and air delivery systems have been rated for these pressures by the American agencies which oversee cylinder testing and equipment compatibility for SCUBA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Compressed Gas Association).

  5. RJ says:

    The whole point in all these new style of machines is that it is beginning to become painfully obvious how idiotic our insistance with ICE engines really is…

    There are so many viable alternatives that it’s not even funny….

  6. Marc F says:

    This is pretty awesome. Nice work, Dean.

  7. buellracerx says:

    pretty cool concept, but he essentially designed a chassis around existing components…good work, show me FEA & ride/handling test results; then I’ll be impressed.

    Oh, & I might be wrong, but what I took from the vid was that the 140km/hr figure was measured at the back wheel (essentially sitting on the stand, spinning up the wheel) I’d be surprised if you could go over 110km/hr in real world.

    overall, congrats on creativity, a pretty sound-looking chassis, and an obviously unlimited proto budget

  8. Jimbosidecar says:

    Interesting to say the least. But ICE engines so far are the most efficient. They set a very high bar for alternative power sources to aim for. Coincidently I was just watching TV and a VW commerical came on the air. They have a running prototype, real world 4 passenger car that uses less than 1 liter of fuel for every 100 kmh. Not many motorcycles achieve that level of efficiency.

  9. Ken C. says:

    You still have to consider the electricity used to run the air compressors uses to fill the tanks and the energy used to produce that electricity, which most likely comes from coal. Not to mention the energy used to mine the coal. Etc. etc. It’s really that clean, when you think of it.

    That said, it’s a fascinating concept. Probably fun, like a BB gun. :)

  10. dan says:

    What you didn’t mention was that compressed air can be refueled in seconds/minutes rather than hours – the present limitation of pure electric systems.

    The DiPietro motor is also pretty amazing, it can operate on 1 bar of pressure cos it has really low starting inertia.

    Air might not be a real alternative for long range touring but for inner city commuting it could be ideal. As for ICE of course they are more efficient, they’ve had over 100 years of intensive development by the entire automotive industry, who knows what will be propelling the transport of the future, bring on fission powered Deloreans I say!

  11. pat walker says:

    With the range limits why not just ride a bicycle?
    Where is all the energy to run the air compressors going to come from
    fukushima?

    http://www.scubabomb.freeservers.com/Scubadag.htm

  12. RJ says:

    Dan is 100% correct. The 100+ years of development ICE powertrains have enjoyed far exceeds any sort of advantage any of these new alternative powerplants have. But the point is there is still an entire complex, expensive, and polluting infrastructure in place to support these types of machines. Fuel doesn’t just “come out of the ground” you know.

    Therefore knowing this it is plainly obvious to see that when comparing on a strict efficiency level, ICE engines become clearly the least efficient. People are used to thinking modern ICE powertrains are efficient cause they’ve been watching propaganda from manufactures stating how their ICE products are getting more efficient everyday. Yes, more efficient compared to the previous versions of themselves, which in the broad spectrum of power sources isn’t that efficient at all…

  13. Richard Gozinya says:

    @Jimbosidecar Actually ICE’s are about the least efficient motors in existence. Their one saving grace is the very high energy density of gasoline and diesel, as opposed to say, batteries. A gas engine, optimized for efficiency has what, 25-30% efficiency, max? Compare that with the 90%+ of an electric motor.

    Again, it’s not the motors that make ICEs better, it’s the energy source.

  14. Mark says:

    Here’s an idea to greatly increase energy density and power. Just squirt a little bit of gas into the motor and light it off at just the right time!!
    I would hardly call this new technology, this isn’t any better than a steam engine from 100 years ago.

  15. Jimbosidecar says:

    Richard, you say “in existance”. In existance I still stand by the ICE engine, as the most efficient engine right now. Electric motors get their energy from either coal, oil, or nuclear power generation, but the most inefficient part has to be the manufacture of the batteries. One day when we can manufacture clean high power batteries, I’ll change my mind but looking at the manufacture and disposal, not to mention the resources used in manufacturing batteries, I just don’t see anything remotely as efficient “in existance”

  16. mxs says:

    For some reason I like this idea much better than any electric solution I have seen.

    The simplicity of the bike and the simplicity of the refueling stations makes it very likeable solution to me. Compressed air vs. expensive and heavy batteries. I will take that on any idea.

  17. Mark L. says:

    Anyone know what happens when you experience a sudden loss in air pressure?

    It is accompanied by an equally sudden drop in temperature. Basic physics.

    The problem will be getting the air out of the tank in sufficient volume and pressure without condensation freezing everything in sight solid.

    Nice concept though.

    Mark L. – Engineer

  18. Bob says:

    Air has weight. Ever weigh a wheel before and after filling the tire with air? Easy to add 3-4 pounds of weight at 36 psi. How heavy would a large high pressure cylinder weigh fully filled?

  19. Bob says:

    Richard and Jimbo,

    I agree that ICEs are the most inefficient motors around. They have about 30% efficiency. 70% is lost to heat, mechanical losses and vibration. But they are only 30% efficient when you think of them as a motor. By definition, a motor has an external power source. An engine has an internal power source (the combustion process for instance).

    The fact is, the ICE is an engine but is essentially a power plant. It is a motor, power source and fuel storage combined and they travel together.

    The electric motors are a true motor and the battery is its power source which travel together. But in order to charge the battery, you need another power source and it happens to be external, along with it’s external fuel storage. Now if you were to carry that power plant with you (ICE, coal fired, NG), you would then have a hybrid. Now, try accounting for the energy production for charging the batteries. Now you’re comparing apples to apples.

    I have no doubt that the “electric vehicle” is still more efficient overall. But it definitely does not have the high efficiency rating most everyone thinks it does.

    Essentially electric vehicles are hybrids that just don’t carry the power plant with them. That’s why the range is crap. But since I can not carry my own power plant around with me, I prefer the ICE solution. I factor time into the efficiency equation and ICE wins in the refueling contest.

    Personally, I’d rather have a true hybrid than a pure electric vehicle. Toyota’s Synegy drive is really pretty nice. If they could put that into a 2 wheeled chassis, we’d all more likely buy into it. I would. Just think of the instant torque, power capbilities and superior mpgs.

  20. mitch middleton says:

    why not have a air intake on the front so when moving at speed the air tank gets refilled

  21. mitch middleton says:

    how much are they going to be?

  22. CB77 says:

    I suppose you have also been seeing some info and pictures of Honda’s electric
    concept bike, the RC-E. Perhaps I am showing my age…but I am having a really
    tough time getting excited about electric motorcycles. For me, an awfully large
    emotional-component of my pleasure of M/C riding, is the interaction with an
    internal combustion engine: The exhaust note, use of the transmission, etc.

    Riding a bike and hearing only the whine of an electric motor would not be
    satisfying to me…regardless of its speed capability.

    Seemingly, the main reason for an electric-powered (or hybrid) vehicle is to
    lessen (or totally avoid) the expense caused by a gasoline or diesel engine that
    consumes large amounts of fuel.

    Since a motorcycle does not really consume large amounts of fuel (and in the
    U.S. they are 99.5% used for pleasure riding…not utility) it seems to remove
    all the need for an electric version. Maybe they need to be kept on the back
    burner, though, for when we do start to actually run out of gasoline and diesel.
    I doubt that I will still be around when that happens. But if I am…I guess I
    would take an electric bike over no bike.

  23. JTH says:

    Do I detect an error – wasn’t this to be embargoed until April 1 ?

  24. Miguel Speed says:

    Curious if they think this could do motorcross. Consider a hard or fast crash…. What happens to all that condensed O2 and the valve breaks on impact. Would that cylinder become a missle? I’ve scuba dived before, those tanks are heavy. Dont think this, in its current state, could be a realistic option for todays riding. Cool technology though.