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.

Ben Spies Retires from Motorcycle Racing

10/26/2013 @ 2:08 am, by David Emmett31 COMMENTS

Ben Spies Retires from Motorcycle Racing ben spies qatar motogp scott jones 635x422

Ben Spies is to retire from motorcycle racing. The shoulder injuries the Texan suffered in the past year have cast doubts over whether his shoulders will ever be strong enough to race a motorcycle again, and so Ducati and Spies have come to a mutual agreement for Spies to terminate their contract after just one year. Accordingly, Spies’ retirement leaves the second seat at Pramac Ducati vacant for 2014.

The trouble started for Spies during his difficult second year with the factory Yamaha team. After a series of strange mechanical issues and a few crashes, which led to his decision to leave the team, Spies had a massive highside in the wet at Sepang, in which he badly damaged his right shoulder.

He had surgery to fix that injury late 2012, in the hope of being ready to test at Sepang with the Pramac Ducati team. Riding that soon after such major surgery proved to be a mistake, and after the Austin round of MotoGP, Spies decided to pull out.

A brief return at Mugello followed, and then a return to full fitness at Indianapolis in August. Another huge highside damaged saw Spies damage his left shoulder, and be forced to pull out for the rest of the season.

Spies retirement brings to an end a spectacularly successful career. The Texan won three-straight AMA Superbike championships against Mat Mladin with the Yoshimura Suzuki team, before moving to World Superbikes with Yamaha. Spies impressed everyone in WSBK, taking the title at the first attempt, on race tracks he had never ridden before.

A move to MotoGP followed, where he spent a relatively successful year with the Tech 3 team, before moving up to the factory Yamaha team in 2011. His first year with the factory Yamaha team saw him win at Assen, and he looked set to make another step in 2012, but a disastrous year followed. Spies joined Ducati for 2013, but barely rode.

What Spies will do next is unknown, but the Texan already has several business interests, including the Stackhouse burger restaurant in Dallas. He also owns a cycling team, in which he is actively involved.

The press release does not make it entirely clear whether Spies intends to retire from motorcycle racing permanently, but it is clear he will not be racing in 2014. Even if he does attempt a return, it is unlikely he will return to MotoGP.

With Spies out, speculation is now commencing over who will take the second seat at Pramac Ducati. What seems clear is that the bike on offer will not be a 2014 prototype, to be raced by Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone next season, but a 2013 Desmosedici run under the Open rules, meaning the bike will have more engines, more fuel and run the spec Dorna software.

Eugene Laverty has been linked to the ride, but the package offered meant he had no interest. Paddock rumor currently puts either Danilo Petrucci or Yonny Hernandez on the bike. With Hernandez already filling in for Spies, the Colombian is likely to be favorite for the ride.

Below is the official press release issued by Ducati on Spies’ retirement:

Ducati and Ben Spies announce the American’s retirement from racing competition

  • Spies announces retirement after a successful career in Superbike and MotoGP
  • Decision taken jointly by Ducati and the Texan rider
  • Retirement prompted by doubts about physical ability to race next year

Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy), October 26, 2013 – Ducati Motor Holding and Ben Spies announced today that the American will not be racing in 2014 after the parties reached agreement to resolve Ben’s current contract with the Italian racing manufacturer. The 29-year-old Texan had signed a two-year agreement with Ducati at the end of last season to race in MotoGP in 2013 and 2014 as part of the factory-supported Ignite Pramac Racing Team.

Ben has been sidelined for most of this season due to an injury to his right shoulder sustained in October 2012 while riding for another manufacturer team. While he began 2013 racing with Pramac, it quickly became clear that he was not fully healed from his injury and needed to undergo further rehabilitation on his shoulder. Unfortunately, on his return to racing at Indianapolis in August, Ben had another setback when he suffered a season-ending crash during practice.

The resulting operations on both shoulders have left Spies feeling that his physical ability to ride next year remains in question and a decision was jointly made by Ducati and Ben to release Ben from any requirement to race in 2014.

The 2009 World Superbike Champion, three-time AMA Superbike Champion and MotoGP race winner announced his retirement from the sport in the following way: “I had such high hopes for racing for Ducati, and Ducati has been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging year, so I am tremendously disappointed that I have not been able to fulfill my personal goals and team goals with Ducati. I want to thank everyone from racing organizations, factories, teams and all my fans for helping me and supporting me throughout my career. I never dreamed that I would reach the level of success that I have over the past 20 years of racing, but the time has come to stop and I do so with great sadness.”

Spies’ manager/mother Mary Spies added: “Wherever Ben has raced over the years—from AMA Superbike to World Superbike to MotoGP—he has always felt the warmth and appreciation of the organizers, circuits, teams and fans. We are so grateful to them for their support.”

Ducati MotoGP Project Director Paolo Ciabatti declared: “We had high expectations when Ben joined Ducati in MotoGP this year, and we really hoped that he would fully recover from his Indianapolis crash injuries and continue to race for us in the future. However we understand the reasons for his decision and respect them. It is really a shame for our sport that Ben will not be racing anymore, because in our opinion he is one of the most talented riders in the world. We will miss him and wish him all the best for his future life.”

Source: Ducati Corse; Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.


  1. k1200Rider says:

    God Speed Ben! Too bad he had to go out like this, we lose yet another American rider from the grid!

  2. ZootCadiilac says:

    Whilst it’s been known that Ducati wanted Ben out of his contract for some time now. mainly because there is no confidence in his ability to remain fit, which is not something a rider of his age can do much about, but also because of his lapses of judgement in speaking publicly this year, I was not expecting his retirement.

    He’s a great rider, a great person and will be missed in the sport. Sadly many people were too concerned about his fitness and not just that, even when fit, the slightest of falls could result in too long a time off with big injuries. managers, sponsors, Insurers…It scares them all.

    I did think he’d have a go on the wsbk if it was offered, and I have no information to suggest that it was, or to try his hand with another team once his contract was mutually withdrawn, but full retirement? that caught me on the hop.

    Ben is an astute businessman and will not suffer in the future because of this and he definitely has a lot left to bring to racing should he decide to remain in that arena.

    Just stay off the dirt bikes Ben, you are made of glass, candy cotton and teenager’s egos.

  3. TexusTim says:

    Sad to see him leave, I hope that he makes a comeback, maybe 2015.

  4. Bill says:

    Feels like his heart isn’t in racing. You listen to interviews, look at photos of him and he does not look like he is enjoying himself. His AMA days he looked like he was having fun, or at least as much fun as he ever seemed to have. WSBK I think he enjoyed the battles with Haga. MotoGP he never fit in, always lamented feeling like an outsider and not being Spanish. Strange he was not tougher mentally after being pushed by Mladin so hard, and the tough fight in WSBK.

  5. UncJason says:

    Ben as we all know was a very talented rider, and can ride as good as anyone on any given day. But before he moved to WSBK he was not very fond of all the travel and especially the flying. He would rather be in a RV than and airplane, but he managed and did great things in Europe. But in my opionion I really think he enjoys being back in the states and riding his road “bike” bicycle. Either way I wanted him to win the Moto Gp title bad for us americans but he still showed some grit.

  6. ross ewich says:

    now his mommy can have him all to herself. (and road bicycling is a recreation. racing motorcycles is the kids JOB. he’s got his priorities mixed up)

  7. Terrence says:

    I hope he joins his cycling team and starts another career there. The Bostrom brothers are successful professional mountain bikers. I’d like to see Ben get to the point that he and his cycling team are entered in the Tour de France.

  8. UncJason says:


  9. jkedsnake says:

    Aw well, at least we wont have to wonder what happened with Spies this weekend.
    Sucks, all of it. Really wanted to see him kick ass in moto gp.
    His WSBK season was one for the history books…

    Good luck and good health Ben.

  10. Gutterslob says:

    So it’s either a career involving pushbikes (rider and/or team owner), or fishing with Stoner.

    Best of luck Ben.

  11. SBPilot says:

    shocking – he should do another season in WSBK, that is if he still wants to race motorbikes. Or if he wants to get as far away from the circuits as possible, than fishing sounds ok too.

  12. smiler says:

    The sad thing is the only US riders of note are Hayden and Edwards. Where are and who will be the next riders from the US?

  13. tony says:

    seems like maybe i’m becoming the moral compass for a + r…which is fine !

    dear ross ewich; it’s not cool, smart or funny to dis peoples families you little fuckwit. as a man, go directly to someone with your weedy remarks. now commence fucking off!

  14. Doctor Jelly says:

    Le sigh… I guess it’s better to burn out than fade away…

  15. Tim M says:

    So sad when injuries sideline great talent. I’ve got hopes for the next gen GP American racers being Cameron Beaubier, PJ Jacobson, and Dakota Mamola.

  16. Ken C. says:

    Damn. He was one of my favorite riders. Sad to see him go.

    I say they bring up Josh Hayes. He can do some amazing things on a bike.

  17. Richard Gozinya says:

    I don’t know, I remember an interview he did for BikeExif a couple years ago. He struck me as just not really being that into motorcycles. It was just a standard set of questions that they have everybody answer, but reading his answers, as opposed to others, he just didn’t seem that into what he did. Also seemed pretty closed-minded, and not much of a thinker.

    I take it all with a grain of salt though, was just one generic interview, I don’t know him personally, so I can’t say for sure. Just struck me that way is all.

  18. jet says:

    Dammit,I am a huge fan and will miss him.I had him sign my cap this past laguna race on the island and he was a great gentleman to meet.Let’s all hope that this All American Motorcycle Rider get’s healed up and maybe get bigger and stronger for the return to a track soon….

  19. J Wilson says:

    Just dumbstruck.

    Probably won’t be sending Lin Jarvis any Christmas cards.

    But better to walk away (while you can still walk) from the danger if your heart and head are no longer willing to assume the risks, so good for him, he’s paid heavily these last years.

    All the Best, Ben, we certainly dug watching you and your amazing skills, and here’s to you and whatever’s next !

  20. ZootCadiilac says:

    just a follow up to my previous post. It now turns out that Ben was offered the WSBK ride in a bid to get him off the motogp ride. He did consider it and the resulting retirement is out of a genuine belief that he just can’t get fit again. That last shoulder separation was horrendous. It was entirely his decision.

  21. Westward says:

    I still think a healthy Spies could have tamed the Ducati like a Titan… Too bad it just wasn’t meant to be…

  22. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    Spies was awesome. If he retired on his own terms then good for him.

    I’m hoping like hell for a comeback but it seems this is it.

    He’s young and will be fully healthy soon so I wish Ben Spies all the best. Thanks for the many great racing memories.

  23. gsp75 says:

    Courtesy of Superbikeplanet.com

    So, what does Mladin think of Spies’ early retirement? Judging by his response, Spies and Mladin won’t be arranging a traveling pub show where they offer warm tributes, toasting the good old days.

    Asked for comment on Spies retirement, Mladin responded with just two words: “F*#king pussy.”

    Mladin refused to be drawn out on the subject, saying “You got my quote.”

  24. Sid says:

    Dear Tony,
    “Moral compass”? Ben would do well by considering a comeback that does not include his mother as a manager

    This “retirement” could legally pave the way to get away from her & any contracts with her in them.

  25. tony says:

    hey sid, yeah, moral compass. there is a gentlemanly way to say and do things, and i dont think mr ewich did us proud. you did, although the point may be the same…

    now commence intelligent observations…

  26. Sid says:

    Your reply to him wasn’t exactly calibrating your alleged “moral compass” to point in the right direction.
    Mladin’s comment was great, but it would mean something if he had ever reached the podium at the level.

  27. tony says:

    ok sid, lets make it simple…just dont be a dick!

  28. Sid says:

    tony – not being a dick…re-read what you wrote & learn to take criticism.

  29. Dave Mazz says:

    Ben Spies’ motorcycle-racing record speaks for itself. He is/was a great rider. I wonder if he’s done any race *car* testing?? Past motorcycle racers have moved over to racing cars as they…..matured. I think Ben might be successful as an endurance sports-car driver. But whatever he does, I wish him the best.

    —Dave Mazz

  30. TooClose Racing says:

    Ben did the right thing in pulling out of his contracts and not riding in 2014 – MotoGP or WSBK. I’m a glass half-full guy, and I want to believe that he will spend 2014 getting healthy and then look at his options. And I kinda laughed at Matt’s comment – I think it was his less than subliminal way of saying…get well soon, but don’t give up yet. Finally…I’ll continue this heretical post by saying I don’t think I would swing my leg over the WSBK spec Panagale either. It can’t win races with it’s current restrictor plate limitations. Now..when they start racing Evo-whatever spec in 2015, I think that will be a different story for the Panagale. As they say in Jamaica…”Mome back, Ben”. In 2015.

    Great website, great moto-journalism, and always a pleasure to see passion in the posts!!

  31. Keith says:

    I hope Ben will do whatever possible to get back on the motorcycle, and I hope he goes back to the racing series where he was most successful, before he went to MotoGP. Come on Ben! We love to see race!