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 Phillip Island: The Dry Flag-to-Flag MotoGP Race & Apportioning Blame for the Debacle

10/19/2013 @ 11:06 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Phillip Island: The Dry Flag to Flag MotoGP Race & Apportioning Blame for the Debacle Saturday Phillip Island MotoGP 2013 Scott Jones 02 635x423

There should have been plenty to talk about after qualifying at Phillip Island. Jorge Lorenzo’s stunning fast lap, Marc Marquez getting on the front row for the 11th time in his rookie season, Valentino Rossi’s return to the front row, and his excellent race pace, Scott Redding’s fractured wrist ending his title hopes, so much to talk about, and more.

But one subject dominates MotoGP right now: tires, the incompetence of the tire suppliers, and the stopgap solutions put in place to deal with it.

Shortly after qualifying had finished, Race Direction announced that the Moto2 race would be shortened to 13 laps, and the MotoGP race would be shortened to 26 laps, but that the riders would have to come in for a compulsory pit stop to change rear tires (or in practice, swap bikes), and that nobody would be allowed to do more than 14 laps on a rear tire.

How they intend to enforce that is a mystery, unless any rider exceeding the number of laps gets black-flagged, which would be the ultimate irony. So Phillip Island makes history once again: in 2006 it was the scene of the first wet-weather flag-to-flag race; in 2013, it will host the first ever flag-to-flag race held in dry conditions.

Why a flag-to-flag race? Race Direction had three options: shorten the race to 14 laps, run two 13-lap races, or run a flag-to-flag race with a compulsory tire swap. The first option would have been the safest, but would have left the TV broadcasters with a half hour or so of dead air to fill, and would have cost Dorna money in TV rights.

The second option would have overrun the allotted TV slot, and the chaos of having to line up on the grid for two starts would have been time consuming, placed a lot of extra stress on engines and clutches, and would have thrown the rest of the schedule for the support races into disarray. Two grids would effectively double the chances of something going wrong.

The final option, a flag-to-flag race, was a known quantity and catered for in the rules, though it had never been done in the dry before.

Holding a flag-to-flag race in the dry was not the best option, but neither was it the worst. Opinion among the riders was divided, though few riders had a distinct preference. None of the solutions was ideal, but some riders thought one option was marginally better than the other.

Marc Marquez preferred a single, shortened race, Valentino Rossi two sprint races, and Jorge Lorenzo with two sprint races “but with 25 points for each race,” the Spaniard joked. Trailing Marc Marquez by 43 points, and having dominated throughout the weekend, it would have been a very attractive option indeed for Lorenzo.

The root cause of the problem was of course the tire companies. Neither Dunlop nor Bridgestone had tested at the circuit since the new surface had been laid, despite explicit information from the circuit owners, and despite the problems for the World Superbike series at the start of the season.

Why not? Well, it was probably a matter of cost. The savings from switching to a single tire supplier have proven to be a false economy indeed. This is exactly the area in which Dorna should be pressuring Bridgestone and Dunlop to react, to ensure that they bring tires that work to each and every circuit.

Loris Capirossi was appointed safety officer with the explicit task of liaising with the tire suppliers to ensure that they respond to the demands and requirements of the riders and the series. Bridgestone, Dunlop, Dorna, Capirossi, they all slipped up, and so Race Direction had to step in.

They even had to convene an emergency meeting of the Grand Prix Commission to make it possible, granting Race Direction almost blanket powers to alter the regulations and run the race as they see fit to be able to deal with safety issues. Though this is a sensible response to a difficult situation, it hardly looks like a measure taken calmly or rationally.

The failure of Bridgestone and Dunlop to go testing on the new surface at Phillip Island has made the series look stupid, and grasping at desperate measures. This is not the way a series could be run.

The problem is that Dorna has little control over the tire companies, and few means of exerting pressure. Commercial contracts have been signed and as long as the companies are seen to be making an effort, they get off scot-free. The only repercussions can come at contract negotiation time, but having gone for one single supplier, it is hard to make the switch.

That might still happen, at least in the case of Bridgestone. After the debacle of 2010 and 2011, when so many riders were injured after cold-tire highsides, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta met several times with representatives of Michelin, to discuss the possibility of the French company submitting a bid to replace Bridgestone as single tire supplier when the Japanese company’s contract expires at the end of the 2014 season.

Since then, Bridgestone has made a huge effort to improve, the tires vastly improved in terms of safety, and Ezpeleta is said to be much happier about the situation. Phillip Island, attributable solely to a lack of testing by the tire companies, may once again sour the relationship. You have to wonder whether Ezpeleta will be dialing a lot of numbers starting with international dialing code +33 over the next couple of weeks.

What is likely to change is that tire companies will be forced to go testing at circuits which have been newly resurfaced. Doing so may be more expensive, but at least it will avoid a repeat of the farce which Phillip Island has become. The savings in terms of PR behind-covering will surely more than cover the cost of compulsory testing.

The MotoGP race now being a compulsory flag-to-flag race has thrown up a host of question among everyone who isn’t intimately familiar with the FIM rulebook for Grand Prix racing. As it is part of my job to be relatively well-versed in the rules, I cannot blame anyone for not taking the trouble to study them thoroughly.

For anyone with a legalistic bent, or a perverse interested in the minutiae of Grand Prix racing, studying the rules is an interesting intellectual enterprise. For anyone who has what is casually referred to as ‘a life’, there are far, far more interesting things to be doing with their time. Paint doesn’t watch itself dry, you know.

So here’s a quick rundown of the possible implications for a flag-to-flag race, and all of permutations of what is and what isn’t allowed. First and foremost, the mandatory pit stop, combined with the stipulation that a rider may not spend more than 14 laps on a rear tire, means that everyone will be in the pits between lap 12 and lap 14.

They do have the option to do two pit stops instead of just one, coming in and swapping bikes early, and then later on in the race, but that is not a strategy worth pursuing, as the entire process of swapping bikes consumes between 30 and 40 seconds. Given that the difference in lap times between old tires and new tires is usually less than a second, that kind of time can never be made up.

So what about the fuel? With MotoGP bikes limited to 21 liters, how will that work in a flag-to-flag race? The answer to that is more simple: the rules do not stipulate how much fuel a rider is allowed to use during the race, they merely control the maximum capacity of the fuel tank. Each bike has a maximum allowance of 21 liters, and the fuel tank may not contain more than 21 liters.

However, each rider has two bikes, and so in theory, could use both bikes and burn through a total of 42 liters. Actually consuming that amount of fuel is simply impossible, and so the teams will only put in the fuel they need for the race. Phillip Island has never been a circuit where fuel is critical, as there are few spots on the track where the bikes accelerate hard from a slow corner.

Consequently, the teams will put 11 or 12 liters of fuel in each bike, more than enough to finish the race, and burn the fuel as freely as they wish.

Of course, starting with a half-empty tank will make life much easier for the riders which struggle with a full tank. Marc Marquez has been a slow starter in the past, and Bradley Smith – who is having an outstanding weekend – has had a huge problem with a full tank, as have Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow.

But they will still have new tires to contend with, and this could make life more difficult, especially after the bike swap, when they go out on tires which have been heated by tire warmers, but have not had the full benefit of a hot warm up lap to get them up to temperature.

What happens if it rains? Although the weather forecast looks set for clear weather throughout Sunday afternoon, the fact remains that this is Phillip Island, and anything can happen. If it rains, the normal procedure takes over, and a normal wet race or flag-to-flag race is run.

If it rains before the start of the race, riders will start on wets and ride either until the end, or until the track dries sufficiently to come in for slicks. If it rains before lap 12, riders can come in and swap bikes for one shod with wet tires.

If it rains after lap 12, then everyone who has not yet pitted can come in and swap to their second bike with wet tires, and those who have already exited on slicks can come in again for a set of wet tires. The worst case scenario is if it starts raining heavily after some riders have already swapped bikes for one shod with slicks, but the likelihood of that happening is fairly slim.

Is there an advantage to be gained from strategy? Should you pit early, or pit late, to try to gain an advantage? That is hard to say. What is clear is that unlike in a wet race, there is no time to be gained by gambling on different tires in changing conditions, where the difference between slick and wets can easily be 5 seconds or more a lap.

In that case, it is more a case of trying to come in early and use an empty pit lane to not get stuck in traffic. The trouble is, of course, that everyone will have the same idea, and so you could end up in traffic anyway.

In theory, the further along pit lane you are, and the nearer pit lane exit, the better. This one goes to the Repsol Honda team, but not by much: both Marquez and Lorenzo could encounter a bunch of traffic when exiting if they’re not careful.

And then there’s the question of engines, especially given that Nicky Hayden is running very low on his allocation. If Hayden – or another rider wanting a fresh engine, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, for example – wanted to use a sixth engine, could he swap to a bike with a new engine after lap 12, and would that count as starting from pit lane?

The Grand Prix Commission have already anticipated that situation, and the answer is no. If Hayden were to pit and jump onto his second bike and use engine number 6, then he would have to perform a ride through as well. If you are going to take a 6th engine, then it is better to start the race from pit lane. That way you only lose 12 or so seconds, starting 10 seconds after the green light has gone on, rather than the 30-odd that a ride through would cost.

So does the compulsory bike-swap format favor Jorge Lorenzo or Marc Marquez? That is hard to say. What is certain is that Lorenzo’s experience of flag-to-flag races will stand him in good stead, where Marquez has never had to pit and swap bikes before, though he has practiced it many times in the past.

But the obligation to run the harder of the two options available (an extra hard option was also tried, but discarded, as it spun up too much and degraded more quickly than the hard option) would appear to favor the Honda.

On race pace, both Marquez and Lorenzo look very close on the hard tire, and though Rossi’s race pace is strong on the hard tire, it is not in the same ball park as the two championship leaders’. Dark horse in the proceedings is Dani Pedrosa, who appears to have more pace than he is letting on, and who will easily be able to handle the hard rear.

The biggest worry in all of this is the fact that it has happened at Phillip Island, a track with a very narrow pit lane – the service roads at several tracks around the world are wider than PI’s pit lane. With all 23 bikes due to pit in a very narrow, 3-lap window, pit lane is likely to be a very crowded place indeed.

Access for film crews and photographers should be limited, but even then, there will be a lot of people in a small space with a lot of bikes coming in and out of the pits. Pit lane will have to be very heavily policed, but even those policing it will form a risk if they don’t keep their wits about them at all times.

The middle of tomorrow’s race will be a very nerve-wracking period, not just for the riders and the fans, but for everyone involved in the sport.

And so, drama awaits on race day. More drama than was necessary, and all for the lack of a little testing. The tire companies made MotoGP look a bit silly on Saturday. Let’s hope that the series fares better on Sunday.

~~~ UPDATED ~~~

The MotoGP race has now been shortened to 19 laps. The full details can be found here.

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. David says:

    David Emmett…aren’t you English? Tires??????? hmmmm….thats Yank speak…its TYRES!! And what the hell, that was THE BEST MOTOGP EVER!!!!

  2. I dock David’s pay every time he says “tyres” or uses a superfluous “u” in a word.

  3. David says:

    Jensen……just smack him in the ear!!! Oh, and I think his pay this week must be NEGATIVE…so many “tires”, I am just all tired out now! :)

  4. smiler says:

    Funny how the lack of tire durability in F1 is seen as a nightmare. This race has to go down in history as a good un.
    The Aussies should continue to bring surprises, though it was really not their fault.

    As for Dorna excerting more prssure on the tire makers. All that would mean is that the preferred tire maker would be Spanish.

  5. Gutterslob says:

    It’s all Noah Webster’s fault. He wanted to be ‘different’ and decided to throw a hissy-fit. No idea how a guy that couldn’t even spell right got a dictionary named after him. I suspect he’s also to blame for half the world’s cars having the steering wheel on the wrong side. Marquez should blame him for today’s cock-up as well, I reckon.

  6. “Funny how the lack of tire durability in F1 is seen as a nightmare.”

    The 2013 reliability issues Pirelli have faced were unexpected; however, the overall performance degradation in both the 2012- and 2013-spec tires are by design to improve the show. The degradation is not at all seen as “a nightmare” by anybody who has taken more than a passing interest in the sport, including the teams.