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.

Saturday Summary at Aragon: On Championship Turnarounds, Honda’s Moto3 Gambit, & The 2014 Calendar

09/28/2013 @ 5:27 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Aragon: On Championship Turnarounds, Hondas Moto3 Gambit, & The 2014 Calendar jorge lorenzo motogp aragon yamaha racing 635x423

Qualifying at Aragon showed that the fourteenth round of the season could turn out to be a turning point in all three Grand Prix championships. Momentum shifts, sometimes suddenly, sometimes slowly, and before you know it, title races can open up again.

Foregone conclusions are shown up for the illusions they are, and the words of every championship leader – “I won’t start thinking about the title until Valencia” – are brought into keen focus.

In Moto3, the lead Luis Salom had built up after the summer break has slowly been dissipating, as Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales have clawed points back from the Spanish veteran.

On Saturday, Alex Rins took yet another pole – his sixth of the season – crushing the opposition and putting seven tenths of a second into Viñales, the man in second. Luis Salom struggled, ending the session in 8th, over a second slower than Viñales, and 1.7 seconds off the time of Rins.

He must attempt to defend his championship lead from the third row of the grid, and with Rins, Viñales, and Alex Marquez ahead of him, he will have his work cut out.

Former Red Bull Rookie Philipp Oettl had his best qualifying of the season, finally getting to grips with the Moto3 class. Just how hard that is at the Grand Prix level was shown by Maria Herrera and Bryan Schouten.

The numbers two and three of the very strong Spanish Moto3 championship had done well on the first day of practice, but once the pressure builds during qualifying, they struggled, ending in 31st and 32nd respectively. There is more to racing than being able to circulate a race track at speed. If anything, that is the easy part.

It was encouraging also to see the pace of the Mahindras, the Suter-built bikes qualifying in fifth and seventh. The aim of the Moto3 class was to reduce costs and create parity by making extreme engine tuning impossible at the price of 12,000 euros.

KTM has chosen to hide those tuning costs in the cost of their bike package, supplying bikes which are vastly more powerful than the Hondas they are competing against. Mahindra has decided to counter the KTM onslaught by building their own engine, and the added horsepower is allowing Efren Vazquez and Miguel Oliveira to take the fight to the KTMs.

Now, Honda itself could be on the verge of a full-scale counter attack. For a long time now, there have been rumors of a split inside HRC over the future of their Moto3 program. One side wants to cut their losses and pull out of Moto3, in protest at the blatant abuse of the rules (or more accurately, the spirit of the rules). The other side wants to pull out of Moto3, after giving KTM a taste of their own medicine.

In this scenario, Honda would build a ‘KTM Killer’, a highly tuned Moto3 engine which they would sell to Moto3 teams and subsidize themselves. Once they had beaten the KTMs at their own game, then they would withdraw from the series, leaving KTM to lick their wounds and win an empty championship.

It now appears that the KTM Killer side has won out. Sources are reporting that HRC has decided to build the new engine and take on the Austrian factory. With so many teams already having deserted Honda to switch to KTM, they would only have to supply a few – between four and six – bikes to teams. Key to beating the KTMs will be having top riders on the Hondas.

The big rumor at Aragon was that Emilio Alzamora had secretly signed his Estrella Galicia team to switch to Honda, putting Alex Rins and Alex Marquez on the HRC machines next year. With a powerful engine, an FTR chassis (or a chassis copied from FTR) and two of the most talented riders of their generation, Honda should be able to beat KTM at their own game.

The pattern in Moto3 was repeated in Moto2, with the championship race facing a shake up. Pol Espargaro has looked solid all weekend, and the HP Pons rider pushed hard to secure a front row start behind Nico Terol and teammate Tito Rabat. Championship leader Scott Redding had a dismal day, struggling with grip that meant the rear was sliding every time he touched the throttle.

Redding managed only the thirteenth fastest time, and will start from the fifth row of the grid, buried deep in traffic. The only bright spot for Redding is that his lap time was not that far off that of Espargaro, ending half a second slower than the Spaniard, though nine tenths behind Terol.

Terol’s pole is his first in Moto2, and comes after a long and difficult period for the Aspar rider. After winning in Austin, Terol had suffered a slump in form, having major problems with fatigue during the race. Terol was eventually diagnosed with a mild form of lactose intolerance, and after changing his diet – and dropping chocolate, one of his favorite foods – he is back at the front.

His story is reminiscent of Casey Stoner, whose results in 2009 got worse and worse, eventually forcing him to miss three races until he was correctly diagnosed. Once diagnosed and treated, Stoner returned with great success. Terol’s pole at Aragon gives him much reason for optimism.

In MotoGP, the shift has been more subtle than in the other two classes, but the momentum has shifted nonetheless. Jorge Lorenzo’s exceptional performance at both Silverstone and Misano has seen him claw back points from Marc Marquez, and Lorenzo is still gaining ground.

On paper, Aragon is a Honda track – high speed, long back straight with a low gear corner leading on to it, lots of acceleration from low revs – and yet Lorenzo came within a hundredth of a second of taking pole from Marquez. The two men are pushing one another to ever greater heights, and each appears to still have room to improve.

It had not been easy, however. Lorenzo had thought that his first run would be good enough for the front row, but when he got back to the pits he found himself down in fifth. He pushed on even harder on his second run, taking four tenths off his previous best time and nearly six tenths off the lap record set in 2011.

But Marquez had that fraction more, taking his seventh pole of the season. The Repsol Honda rider will have started from pole in half of the fourteen races held this season, impressive enough for any rider, but a staggering achievement from a rider who is still a rookie. That fact, that Marquez is still only in his first year of MotoGP, is something which he makes it easy to keep forgetting.

Can Lorenzo run away with the win, as he did at Misano? No doubt he will get off the line quickly, and no doubt he will try to pull a gap in the first few laps, but will he succeed? His race simulation in FP4 was impressive, running sixteen full laps between 1’49.2 and 1’49.8, a scorching pace to try and follow.

Lorenzo’s team manager Wilco Zeelenberg played down his pace, casually suggesting Lorenzo’s set up was not perfect when he took the bike out on FP4, but the team wanted to see what tire degradation was like. Good enough to post a string of impressive laps, that was for sure. Lorenzo is aided by the fact that he has taken his 5th engine, meaning he has a fresh and powerful motor to play with.

The new engine is also slightly more powerful than the older ones, Yamaha having provided a few minor updates for the last of the Yamaha engines to be made available. Lorenzo, like all of the Yamaha men, have this uprated version for their final engine, helping to make the bike a little faster than it was before.

Yet Lorenzo looks less likely to have it all his own way here than at any other circuit. In terms of race pace, six or seven riders look pretty close.

The factory Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, the Repsol pairing of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, the LCR Honda of Stefan Bradl, the Tech 3 Yamaha of Cal Crutchlow, and perhaps even the Gresini Honda of Alvaro Bautista are all more or less on the same pace.

While Lorenzo and Marquez are clear favorites, Dani Pedrosa is faster than his times suggest, looking dangerously comfortable on the bike, according to Zeelenberg, while Valentino Rossi is also right on the pace.

Rossi may be on the pace but he could not make it to the front row, ending qualifying in fourth, a position he seems to occupy almost permanently. He was about as close to the front row as you could get, though, finishing five thousandths of a second behind Pedrosa, the kind of physical distance that would require a photo finish to separate.

Was he disappointed with fourth, or pleased to have been so close, Rossi was asked on Saturday? His answer was unequivocal: fourth position was a mild annoyance, but being so close and so competitive had been a major boost. In the first minute of speaking at his regular media debrief, Rossi had used the word ‘good’ about six or seven times.

It had been a good day, his team had done a good job, they had given him a good bike, and he had felt good on the bike. Seldom has Rossi unleashed such an unqualified outpouring of praise, causing those present to suspect that the Italian could throw up a surprise at Aragon.

His only real concern was if Lorenzo escaped at the start. His solution? To try to ride the first two laps like a qualifying session, taking risks to stay with Lorenzo before settling in to a rhythm.

There was also talk of a new calendar at Aragon, after Formula One had released a provisional 2014 calendar earlier this week. A version of the calendar is circulating among some officials, though none has yet been leaked in full to the press. The calendar will consist of nineteen races, with Argentina and Brazil being added.

The Brazil round has been added late in the year, but very few people expect it to take place. There is still too much work to be done at the Nelson Piquet circuit in Brasilia, which probably won’t be completed by the end of next year. Brazil will definitely be on the calendar for 2015, as will likely be another race in Asia.

The big hole in the calendar will be Laguna Seca, which is to be dropped. The California track had a contract to organize a race in 2014, but negotiations have apparently foundered over money and safety.

That, after all, was why Moto2 and Moto3 never raced in Laguna: it was simply too expensive, and unlike all other overseas rounds (including the two other US rounds) the fees being paid to Dorna did not cover the cost of freight for all three classes.

The exact details of the calendar will have to wait until Wednesday, when the provisional calendar is due to be released officially. Even then, the calendar will be provisional, with changes possible if Bernie Ecclestone decides to move F1 races around.

It may be possible to start booking accommodation once the calendar is released, but make sure you have free cancellation, as things are almost certain to change.

Photo: Yamaha Racing

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


  1. james h says:

    I find it odd that Laguna Seca has been deemed unsafe after all this time. As someone who attends races there & has ridden that track, i’m thinking that money is the bigger issue. Hopefully, WSBK stays for awhile. AMA is nice, but I thoroughly enjoy the international scene of events like MotoGP & WSBK.

  2. Norm G. says:

    re: “Rossi may be on the pace but he could not make it to the front row, ending qualifying in fourth, a position he seems to occupy almost permanently.”

    marking a perimeter with orange cones this.

    re: “There is still too much work to be done at the Nelson Piquet circuit in Brasilia…”

    …for the games of the 31st Olympiad.

  3. Norm G. says:

    re: “I find it odd that Laguna Seca has been deemed unsafe after all this time.”


  4. Gutterslob says:

    Laguna Seca dropped? Oh, come the f*ck on, people!! It’s the best US-based race on the calendar by far. Now we’re left with with that dull race inside that dull oval in historic Dullsville, or that other snorefest held by autistic organizers in Hipsterville.

  5. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    I haven’t been to Indy but I’ve heard so much bad about it. Even if they resurface it, as a midwesterner transplanted to the west coast, I tend to feel the same as Gutterslob–Dullsville place.

    Been to computer-designed Austin. Austin itself is fun and has potential. However, the rolex-wearing-apple -dumpling-gang who run the track could care less about MotoGP and it showed.

    Laguna is the best by far. Damn Dorna!