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.

Preview of Phillip Island: Of Spectacular Circuits, History in the Making, & A Legend’s Last Chance

10/17/2013 @ 5:50 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

Preview of Phillip Island: Of Spectacular Circuits, History in the Making, & A Legends Last Chance phillip island circuit aerial view 635x423

Ask any Grand Prix rider for his top three circuits, and you can bet that two names will figure on almost everybody’s list: one will be Mugello, and the other will be Phillip Island.

The order which the rider in question will put them in may vary, but the two appear so often because they share something special. Three factors make the two tracks such magical places to ride: they are both fast, they are both naturally flowing, and they are both set in spectacular locations.

Though their settings may be equally stunning, there is one major difference between the two. While Mugello sits amid the Mediterranean warmth of a Tuscan hillside, the Bass Strait, which provides the backdrop to the Phillip Island circuit, is the gateway to the cold Southern Ocean, with little or nothing between the track and Antarctica.

The icy blast that comes off the sea will chill riders, fans, and team members to the bone in minutes, gale force winds often buffet the bikes and trying to blow them off course, when it isn’t throwing seagulls and larger birds into their paths. The fact that the the track has a corner named Siberia tells you all you need to know about conditions at the Australian circuit.

Despite the Antarctic chill, changeable weather, gale force winds, tiny garages, and general shabbiness of the place, Phillip Island remains perhaps the best motorcycle racing circuit in the world.

It is exactly what a circuit is meant to be: fast, flowing, with one corner leading into another, a few blind corners, and lots of places where the rider’s courage is tested to the very limit. At Phillip Island, the rider who is willing and able to carry the speed is the rider who wins.

Does the fact that it is a circuit which favors corner speed over acceleration make it a Yamaha track or a Honda track? In all honesty, Phillip Island is neither. As veteran reporter Dennis Noyes put it, Phillip Island is not a Honda track, it is not a Yamaha track. Phillip Island is a rider’s track.

If you want a clear indication of how little difference the bike makes, just compare the lap times between MotoGP and World Superbikes. At a tight track like Misano with a similar lap time, the difference between the two series is over two seconds. At Phillip Island, the difference is half that.

Indeed, World Superbikes provides an even better yardstick: all year long, the Ducati Panigale has struggled to match the pace of the other WSBK machines. At Phillip Island, the Panigale was on pole.

A sceptic might point out a Honda has won the MotoGP race at the Island for the past two years in a row. But that rather masks the fact that the man riding that Honda had also won the race for the preceding four years, this time on a Ducati.

Casey Stoner owned Phillip Island, just as Valentino Rossi had between 2001 and 2005. This is a track where the rider makes the difference, much more so than the machine.

That factor gives Jorge Lorenzo hope that he can claw back points on Marc Marquez before the series heads to Motegi, a circuit which clearly favors the Honda over the Yamaha. With few spots where there is any really hard braking, the Yamaha M1′s weakest point – stability in braking – is neatly masked, and it comes down to willingness to push fast through corners.

Corner speed is Lorenzo’s strongest point – there is arguably no rider on earth capable of carrying as much corner speed as the reigning world champion, though Marc Marquez clearly comes very close – and that can be key to winning here.

Lorenzo’s record at Phillip Island is very strong since 2010, always finishing and qualifying second, though he was forced to miss the race in 2011 after crashing in the morning warm up and losing the tip of a finger. If Lorenzo is to achieve his increasingly distant aim of taking the championship battle down to Valencia, this is his best chance.

The trouble is, Lorenzo finds himself up against a pair of highly motivated Hondas. Dani Pedrosa arrives at Phillip Island coming off the back of his first victory in five months, winning convincingly at Sepang.

Pedrosa has a point to prove, and another win would bring his season total to four, showing that if things had gone a little differently – he hadn’t broken a collarbone at the Sachsenring, and he hadn’t been thrown from his bike after his teammate had damaged his rear wheel speed sensor at Aragon – he would have still been in genuine contention for the title. Sadly for Pedrosa, luck has always been a very cruel mistress to him.

And then there is Marc Marquez. The youngster looks destined to become the youngest premier class champion of all time, and match Kenny Roberts Sr.’s achievement of winning the title in his rookie year. Lorenzo praised his young rival as a phenomenon, pointing to both his immense talent, but also to the bike and team he has.

Marquez spent the press conference fielding questions comparing him to Casey Stoner, but he played down the comparisons. Of course he had looked at Stoner’s data, he said, but the way Stoner rode around the track was special. Emulating that would be hard.

Marquez is also likely to be more cautious than otherwise. As in Sepang, his first priority ensuring he finishes with as many points as possible. He does not need to win the title in Australia; in fact, Honda would probably prefer it if he didn’t. If he can take the championship at Motegi, Honda’s home track, in front of Honda’s board, it would be a much greater coup for the Japanese factory.

The difference between Marquez and Lorenzo is 43 points, meaning that Marquez needs to extend his lead by 7 points to take the title at Phillip Island.

Given that both Lorenzo and Marquez are almost guaranteed a podium, based on their form this season, that would mean Marquez would have to win and Lorenzo come third. With Phillip Island being favorable to both Lorenzo and Yamaha, and Lorenzo going all out for the win, with nothing to lose, that outcome seems unlikely.

Throwing a real spanner in the works is one Valentino Rossi. Before Casey Stoner dominated at the track, this was the circuit at which Rossi reigned supreme, much as he did at Mugello in the past. Rossi has been slowly creeping up on the three championship leaders in the last few races, as his crew have worked to resolve the braking problem Rossi has had with the M1.

With braking less of a problem at Phillip Island, this is the track where the Italian should be able to show where his true potential lies. If Rossi can stay close to his teammate and the two Repsol Hondas, then it will give him hope of a return to more frequent podiums in 2014, once (or if) Yamaha have fixed the braking problem with the M1.

The corollary of that conclusion is that if Rossi can’t close the gap to Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Marquez, he must surely start to doubt his own abilities. If the nine time world champion can’t match the pace of the front runners at a track where he used to dominate, and where the weaknesses of the bike he is on are most effectively masked, then it could be the first sign that he has lost the very sharpest of his racing edge.

If that is the case, then fourth – a position which he has almost exclusive rights to at the moment – could be the best he could hope for.

Not being on the podium would not be a disaster for Rossi, but a sizable gap to the top three would. If Rossi crosses the line just short of the Spanish armada, it will give him hope for the future. If he manages to actually get on the podium, then it could throw a real spanner in the works of the title chase.

If he gets ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi could be the deciding factor in the title – or rather, in the timing of when Marquez becomes champion. If he can get between Lorenzo and Marquez, then he could help bring the title back within Lorenzo’s reach. It is an intriguing prospect indeed.

Even Cal Crutchlow could get into the mix. Last year, the Tech 3 man took third on the podium, and with his confidence now building again, a podium spot is not beyond the realms of possibility.

At Sepang, the Englishman and his crew found the wrong set up for the very hot Malaysian track, but it could work very nicely for the cold conditions at Phillip Island. Crutchlow would dearly like to get back on the podium before the season ends, and Australia is his best hope of doing so.

The flowing layout of Phillip Island could have a major impact in Moto2 and Moto3 as well. In the Moto2 championship, Pol Espargaro has been slowly regaining ground on Scott Redding, cutting the Englishman’s lead in the title chase to just 9 points. Espargaro destroyed the field at Phillip Island last year, his lead nearly 17 seconds.

But at a track where he does not suffer with the disadvantage of his height and weight, Scott Redding will be determined to pull back as many points as he can. Redding can run the corner speed which Phillip Island demands, and if he can qualify well – the area where he has been underperforming in recent races – he should be able to give Espargaro a run for his money, and perhaps even build a bit more of a cushion again.

In Moto3, Phillip Island could be kind to the Hondas. With top speed less important, the riders on FTR Hondas and the Mahindras should be able to take the fight to the KTMs. The FTR Hondas, in particular, are strong through the corners, and the Honda-mounted men will be looking to exploit whatever advantage they can.

There might even be another Australian winner, Jack Miller having been deeply impressive throughout the year on the Racing Team Germany FTR Honda. If Miller can get within a few seconds of the winner at a horsepower track like Sepang, he should be a real threat at Phillip Island.

Of course, all such ruminations could go out of the window if the notorious Phillip Island weather strikes. So far, the forecast looks fair, with sunny conditions – if strong winds – for Friday and Saturday, with more cloud predicted for Sunday. But this is an island on the edge of the largest and fiercest ocean in the world. The weather can turn at any moment.

As the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a couple of minutes. All three Grand Prix classes will be hoping that doesn’t hold true on Sunday.

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


  1. KSW says:

    Phillip Island, for me, a photographer, is the crown jewel I’ve not yet seen. Envious doesn’t describe how I feel about, Scott, Andrew and my photog friends. Next year oh Phillip Island, next year.

  2. TexusTim says:

    I dont think rossi has lost so much as the others have moved forward..his lap times are better than the last time on the m1 you can put that down to the bike but if he lost much he wouldnt be able to do that..so being off the bike for two years he still has to find that feeling he needs to push to the front in the corners.
    his stamina hasnt wained nor has his skills.. you cant count him out when he is constantly finishing 4 th and has had some good qualifing this year…next year will be the tell all..after testing this winter we may see a vastly improved rossi/m1

  3. smiler says:

    It is a real shame therefore that there are not more circuits that are riders circuits. The calendar choices ramping up those designed by one person, flat and featureless to apparently bank role the sport. Brands Hatch, Spa, Philip Island Mugello, Laguna and for different reasons Imola are proper tracks.
    Might be an intersting weekend if the Brits or Italians can stop the Spanish Armada.

  4. L2C says:



    You just about said it all.

  5. Brett says:

    Hi Dave, great reading but careful, you could have a few Taswegians hunting you with the comment “with little or nothing between the track and Antarctica.” The ‘pointy heads’ are protective of Tassie, or so I’m told. All the best anyway.