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 Sepang: Rain Spices Up Qualifying

10/12/2013 @ 6:48 pm, by David EmmettComments Off

Saturday Summary at Sepang: Rain Spices Up Qualifying marc marquez motogp sepang repsol honda1 635x423

If Saturday at Sepang taught us anything, it is that if the new qualifying system for MotoGP is exciting, the new qualifying system with a little rain mixed in is utterly breathtaking. A brief shower at the end of Q1 left the area through turns 6 and 7 very wet, while the rest of the track was still mostly dry.

Add in the searing tropical heat which dries the surface quickly, and the color of the Sepang tarmac which tends to disguise wet patches, and qualifying becomes even more tricky. And then there’s the fact that Sepang is a long track, the two-minute lap time leaving the riders precious little time to turn laps while waiting for the surface to dry out.

Strategies went out the window, and already stressed mechanics were forced to work themselves into even more of a sweat as they rushed to set up two bikes, one dry and one wet, just in case the rain returned. Some riders went out early and despite being warned, found themselves thrown out of their seats and given a proper scare.

With qualifying being just fifteen minutes, the most likely scenario was that the last rider to cross the line would be the fastest, unless it started raining again.

It didn’t start raining again, and Marc Marquez was the last of the fast men to cross the line, smashing the pole record by three tenths of a second. The Spaniard’s lap was scintillating to watch, pushing his Honda RC213V to its limits while still staying holding some margin of safety through the damp sections around the back of the track, and treating the kerbs with caution. It was Marquez’s 8th pole of the year, extending his record of poles in what is a truly remarkable rookie season.

He received a huge cheer as he crossed the line, though it is possible the cheer was the man who had crossed the line a few seconds earlier. Valentino Rossi had sent the crowds into a frenzy by taking provisional pole before he was so rudely deposed by Marquez. The Yamaha man was anything but displeased, however.

At the press conference, Rossi explained that the front row start was more confirmation that the direction he and his crew had taken over the past few races was the right one. He was feeling better and better on the bike since Misano, when he and factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo had been given Yamaha’s seamless gearbox at last.

Progress had been made at the Misano race, more on the test on Monday, yet more at Aragon, and that forward momentum had carried on at Sepang. His race pace looks good, close to that of the three title contenders, and Rossi told the press conference he felt confident with the bike.

It nearly hadn’t worked out that way for Rossi. The Italian had had a huge moment early on in the session, being thrown from the saddle and nearly crashing at Turn 6. It was his bike which had saved him, he said, rather than anything he had done. The treacherous asphalt had nearly caught him out, and ruined his chances altogether.

He wasn’t the only rider to have a moment there. Jorge Lorenzo had been warned by his team manager Wilco Zeelenberg that the track was damp from Turn 5 onwards, but even then Lorenzo had a massive moment, nearly losing the bike altogether.

From that point, he decided to treat that section with more caution, pushing for the rest of the lap but riding round turns 5, 6 and 7 more gingerly. He estimated he lost around half a second in just those three corners, pushing hard in the rest of the lap, but it was only good enough for 4th, and the second row of the grid.

Ahead of Lorenzo, and keeping the reigning world champion from the front row, was Cal Crutchlow, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider now back in the groove after the mid-season slump caused by a few crashes too many. Crutchlow, too, has strong pace, but he faces problems with his right arm. Still injured from his crash at Silverstone, his forearm is swelling in the heat and humidity of Sepang.

The pain from yesterday is subsiding, Crutchlow suffering less the more he rides. The issue will not be solved until he has surgery on the arm after the Valencia test, but until then he will have to deal with it. More difficult than that will be the tires, which drop off after three laps, but with his mojo now firmly back under lock and key, Crutchlow is at least back battling at the front.

Behind Crutchlow and alongside Lorenzo on the second row sits Dani Pedrosa, the Repsol Honda man choosing caution over audacity, and electing not to push, like Lorenzo. But a second row start is unlikely to be the disadvantage which it might for others. Throughout the year, both Lorenzo and Pedrosa have made rocket starts, leaving the rest of the field for dead off the line.

On a track as wide as Sepang, starting from the second row is a minor inconvenience, rather than a massive hindrance. Betting against anyone entering Turn 1 ahead of the two men fighting to dethrone the upstart rookie would be very brave indeed.

One man who won’t be on the grid is Stefan Bradl. The German was looking strong in the final session of free practice, when he suffered what looked like a harmless fall, folding the front at Turn 1. The bike slid off ahead of him, the handlebars ripping up the carpet as it passed. Bradl caught his foot in the raised carpet, fracturing his ankle in the process. Bradl’s weekend was over.

His injury immediately prompted speculation that the LCR Honda team would need a replacement at Phillip Island. Where would they find someone with experience of the Honda, who was comfortable around Phillip Island, and was familiar with the LCR Honda team? Well, Casey Stoner fulfills all three of those requirements, a fact which triggered a frenzy of speculation among the media.

There were only two minor obstacles: Casey Stoner has shown absolutely no inclination to make a return to racing, and Honda is far too happy to have the Australian as a test rider to put pressure on him to ride. “There is zero chance of seeing Stoner racing at Phillip Island,” Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo told the press.

It won’t stop the speculation, but it won’t make a Stoner start any more likely. Bradl has now been successfully operated, and his fitness will be assessed on Thursday. He is unlikely to be passed fit to race at the Island, but the German should be fit to resume his duties at Motegi a week later.

The question of the astroturf on the outside of Turn 1, and the conditions which the MotoGP men were sent out for qualifying in raised questions over the safety of both matters.

The riders were unanimous on both issues: qualifying and racing has taken place in much more treacherous conditions than a couple of wet corners at Sepang, and so running qualifying was absolutely the right decision, the riders agreed. The conditions were the same for everyone.

As for the astroturf, once again there was broad agreement. The question would be brought up at the next meeting of the Safety Commission, Marc Marquez told the press conference, assuming the mantle of responsibility like a seasoned veteran rather than the rookie he is.

While astroturf serves as a good way of demarcating the outside of corners in the exit zone, it is less useful on the outside of the track in the entry zone. Riders – or drivers, for that matter, when cars are raced at the same circuit – will not be getting anywhere near the track perimeter at that point of a corner, and so having carpet or astroturf serves no purpose.

It is better to have something solid, which would not cause an injury if a rider slid over it. Whether there is enough time to change it before Sunday’s race remains to be seen.

The weather is the big question mark hanging over proceedings on Sunday. Right now, it looks like the track will be dry when all three classes line up on the grid. But this is the tropics, and anything can happen, especially in the late afternoon. Stand by for a few surprises.

Photo: Repsol Media

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

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