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.

Friday Summary at Phillip Island: Lorenzo’s Determination, The Luck of the Hondas, & Tire Trouble on a New Surface

10/19/2013 @ 3:11 am, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Friday Summary at Phillip Island: Lorenzos Determination, The Luck of the Hondas, & Tire Trouble on a New Surface Friday Phillip Island MotoGP 2013 Scott Jones 18 635x423

If anyone was in doubt that Jorge Lorenzo was a man on a mission at Phillip Island, his first few laps of the newly resurfaced circuit should have served to remove any doubt. Lorenzo bolted out of pit lane as soon as the lights turned green, and was soon setting a scorching pace.

By the time he had finished his first run of laps, he had already broken the existing race lap record, and had got into the 1’29s. He finished the morning creeping up on the 1’28s, before going on to start lapping in the 1’28s and dominate the afternoon session as well.

Lorenzo came to Australia to win, let there be no doubt about that. He knows it is his only chance, and even then, he knows that even that will not be enough, and he will need help from Marc Marquez. “The objective is to win the race, and if I win, that will delay Marc’s chance to take the title, but it will depend on his result,” Lorenzo told the Spanish media.

Lorenzo pointed to Marc Marquez’s crash in the afternoon practice as his only real hope of recovering a lot of points. “I don’t wish any harm to any rider, but some bad luck would be good,” Lorenzo reflected. “We could still think about the championship. But if he finishes on the podium, it will be very complicated. Anyway, we are a long way behind in the championship, and Marc can afford to make this kind of mistake.”

Marquez was sanguine about the crash, coming away totally unharmed in what was a very odd looking crash. “It was my fault,” Marquez admitted. He had opened the throttle a fraction too much, leaning over a fraction more than on previous laps, and had been flipped off the bike, luckily not thrown very high, so landing unhurt.

He had been surprised by how aggressively the Honda had responded at that point. It had been a valuable lesson, however: “now I know I can’t accelerate any harder in that corner,” he joked.

The only harm Marquez suffered was to his lap times. The championship leader was forced to use his second bike, which used a totally different geometry than the bike he crashed. That set up did not work, and having lost time and a bike from the crash, the team had no time to make any changes.

Though Marquez finished only 6th in FP2, his pace in the morning showed him to be the only rider capable of living with the scorching pace being laid down by Jorge Lorenzo.

Marc Marquez’s crash was entirely his own mistake, but his luck – reminiscent of Valentino Rossi’s throughout the best part of his career – saved him from his error once again. Lukey Heights is a fast place to crash, but the way the tire slid and then bit and the lean angle Marquez was carrying meant he walked away from it unhurt.

On the other side of the Repsol Honda garage, Dani Pedrosa’s luck was much worse, as usual. After the freak accident at Aragon, where Marc Marquez managed to sever the rear wheel speed sensor on Pedrosa’s machine (that sensor now sports a beautiful little carbon fiber protector), at Phillip Island, it was the turn of human error inside his team to halt the Spaniard.

Toward the end of the session, Pedrosa pulled off track, looking down at the side of his bike. No obvious problem could be seen, until the repeats showed a long bolt sticking out of the side of Pedrosa’s bike as he rounded Turn 2, dragging all the way through the corner.

It turned out to be the rear engine mounting bolt, which had come loose and slid through the frame. A mechanic had failed to lock the bolt in place properly, and it had worked its way loose.

That is the kind of error which HRC does not take kindly to, and one member of Pedrosa’s crew – which is one of the best in the business – will at the very least have a black mark against his name, and will have a tough time come contract renewal time.

The last time one of Pedrosa’s mechanics made a mistake was at Motegi in 2010, when the throttle of the Spaniard’s RC212V stuck open and caused him to break a collarbone.

That incident saw a mechanic sent home and paid off to keep his silence. This incident is not as severe as that, but in a sport where even the smallest error can mean major disaster – and even serious injury or death – forgetfulness or incompetence on the part of the mechanics is treated with the utmost seriousness.

It is a matter of trust: riders have to be able to go out on the track without worrying whether the front forks will collapse through the yokes, or the chain will jump the sprockets, or the gearbox seize up. Unlike some of the satellite and private teams, where mechanics work for very little pay, the factory team pays well, and expects to have the best. This kind of error is not well received.

The speed of the circuit was the talking point of the day, as well as being the cause of a major problem. The resurfacing was met with unanimous approval, Bradley Smith even going so far as to suggest that all circuits should use the same method when it was time to resurface them. The new surface was worth a second a lap at least, reckoned Valentino Rossi.

The circuit had called upon Casey Stoner as one source of advice, and most of the bumps had been removed. One hollow remains, at Turn 6, but the rest was all gone. The grip was only a little better, but 95% of the bumps were gone, Jorge Lorenzo said.

How much faster was the circuit? Alvaro Bautista hit 343 km/h down the front straight, helped along by a stiff breeze. But that was possible because the final corner had been smoothed out, allowing for a much faster exit onto Gardner Straight.

The improved surface is causing a major headache for the tire companies in both MotoGP and Moto2. Dunlop had the toughest time at Phillip Island, a host of punctures in the morning prompting the Moto2 tire supplier to swap out the new Moto2 tire for an older version which they had present at the track.

More punctures followed in the afternoon, prompting some teams to call for a return to the new tires, but the serious chunking which some of the new tires had shown in the morning means Dunlop is wary of doing so.

In MotoGP, Bridgestone suffered less serious problems, but still serious enough to affect the tire choice. A couple of Yamaha riders ended up with blistering on the softer of the two rear tires, causing Bridgestone sufficient concern that they decided to remove the soft tire as a race option.

All MotoGP riders will now be forced to race the hard option, though they may continue to use the soft option in practice.

This could well prove to be a massive problem for the Yamahas especially. Though all of the MotoGP riders prefer the softer of the two options, only the Hondas can make the hard rear work properly, and even then, only very occasionally.

The hard slides too much and is hard to get up to temperature, though it is massively improved on previous years. The way the Honda works, sliding the rear to provide drive, allows the hard rear to still get grip. The Yamaha’s high corner speed style requires more grip to get drive, and that is only possible with the softer of the two tires.

Bridgestone’s decision appears to be unnecessarily cautious: even with blisters on his rear tire, Valentino Rossi was still lapping fast. With only the hard tire to race, the Yamahas can be sure of finishing, but are likely to finish down the field.

With the softer option at their disposal, they are in with a chance of racing at the front, and bumping the Hondas down the grid a little. And that could help Jorge Lorenzo’s defense an awful lot.

Photos: © 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. TexusTim says:

    actually they have to make a mandatory pit stop during the race to change bikes as bridgstone announce before this post the tires wouod not make more than 14 laps. http://www.motogp.com/en/news/2013/race+direction+decision+for+phillip+island+race

  2. The prospect of the flag-to-flag race replete with bike change is going to make for quite the spectacle! I’m looking forward to it.