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.

Pitching the BMW R1200GS – OEMs, Take Note

10/02/2012 @ 2:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Pitching the BMW R1200GS   OEMs, Take Note 2012 BMW R1200 GS Africa 635x422

Making effective market communications in the motorcycle industry should be a relatively straight-forward and easy task. After all, motorcycles in North America and Europe have a strong personal component that revolves around self-expression and a rider personal identity. Making things easier, the motorcycle industry is littered with enthusiasts who themselves ride on a daily basis, and should understand this concept first-hand.

The idea that an ad or campaign should reach out and grab the intended consumer is not a novel concept, and motorcycle marketing professionals have their job simplified since they need only to develop and publish creative that would speak to them personally, in order to be successful. For whatever reason though, motorcycle industry marketers, by-in-large, were absent the day they taught marketing in business school…and it shows.

It is a subject I rail on about far too often, probably because it just simply baffles me how it occurs in the first place. How a motorcycle enthusiast fails to connect with people just like himself or herself boggles my mind, and yet it routinely happens in the motorcycle industry. However, every now and then, an OEM puts together something that renews my faith in the establishment, and for a split-second I have a vision that this whole two-wheeled thing isn’t going to hell in a hand basket. Such is the case with this promo video done by BMW TV.

No loud rock music. No quick-cuts. In fact, at no point do you even see a motorcyclist riding the 2012 BMW R1200GS. Instead we get a serious of shots of the R1200GS, parked in remote and exotic locations throughout Africa (Kenya if my eye serves me right). The message is clear: these are all the places you could go on this motorcycle. No technology jargon and no horsepower figures. Just the simple plucking of the aspirational string that tells us to get out of our urban drone life.

This is what real marketing looks like, and if you think they’re selling a motorcycle here, then you just failed the today’s midterm exam.

Source: BMW (YouTube)


  1. Bob says:

    I didn’t like the ad because the bike was not being ridden. I didn’t like the ad because you could tell the bike was never ridden. It was too clean and fresh to be ridden in the majority of locals that those pictures were taken. The bike was obviously trailered to each locale for each shot. So, if BMW can’t or won’t ride the bike in the ad to the places where they were shooting it, why should I think that I can or will. I also didn’t like the ad because it didn’t do anything for me in the excitement department.
    “Rock music” and “quick-cuts” is exactly what draws the attention of young, new, potential sportbike customers. If you think that the people who create the ads your comparing this one to, don’t do their market research then you are mistaken.
    Mr. Beeler, your critiques and comments on the industry as whole are (once again) biased by your enthusiasm for specific bikes, ads, etc. You have your own unique vision of what the industry should be instead of what it could be for everyone.

  2. matt says:

    the only advertising with a meaningful point was the film of those 2 guys going across EU/RU/CN on their bikes. putting a $20,000 bike in desolate wastelands where 50cc mopeds and rusty bicycles, if not walking, serve as normal transport is just dumb. “oh great, yet another rich, white man and his overpriced toy doing whatever it is they think they’re doing in an area where people eek out a subsistence living”. Nobody under 35 (probably more like 45) buys an RG1200 anyway. Film the bike crossing those rivers, climbing up the rock pile, or navigating the goat track. It’s still dumb since nobody with any brain would bring a 600+lb behemoth to the outback but at least it would have a veneer of plausibility. Most of the market is USA and northern EU, why not film riding unpaved roads in AZ or CO or riding up/down the Alps or Bavaria or whatnot?

  3. ngads says:

    @ Bob

    This commercial is excellent. You’re right, rock music and quick cuts draw the attention of young and potential sportbike customers. But, that is not what this bike is about at all. BMW aren’t looking for this bike to be a crazy sportbike that young people are going to buy. This bike targets a very specific market.

    If anyone doubts that this bike has offroad capability, go and watch long way round.

  4. Axel says:

    I like the ad for it promises all the stories of ‘getting there’. And it sets a differnt tone, catering to the demographic. It’s a bit cheesy, at least in a german context.

    Another good example of showing the product are the vids for both KTM Freerides: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5SqoyR8Ht0
    Makes me want to grab one and conquer Berlin with it (I live here, so it’s ok).

  5. Paulo says:

    I was 34 when I first bought my R1200GS Matt……… BTW Matt, it’s not a RG1200.

    Oh yeah, Matt…….because someone can do (or buy) something doesn’t make it right or wrong.

    BTW……I take my 1200 to dirt bike tracks and have people tell me I’m crazy but that’s not the point I guess. The point is that you don’t get the ad or a 1200GS.

    Matt, here’s a link to a couple guys enjoying a 1200GS in deep sand on two track roads….. http://www.mcnews.com.au/NewsArchives/2010/September/GS_Daryl.htm

    Matt, you fail.

  6. Paul McM says:

    I’ve ridden an R80GS, an R1000GS, and an R1150GS. As far as I’m concerned the original, simpler, lighter R80GS was the best of the bunch. They all feel clunky and industrial. Definitely too tall, too heavy. And the current models have less than stellar reliability according to my friends who own them. One of these guys told me “It used to be you could tour with a BMW and all you needed was the factory toolkit. Now you need a satellite phone and a tow truck.”

    All you need to know about these behemoths was covered in the first episode of “Long Way Round”, when Charlie dropped his bike right in front of the garage which was the starting point of the trip. Charlie needed two helpers to get the bike upright…

  7. Eep. This is THE ultimate “Get the hell outta Dodge” ad that sells lifestyle by the bucketload. You want the peace of an African sunset? Buy a 1200GS.

    Funny how this 12ooGS ad completely translated to the 800GS PDF sitting in my documents folder. Visions of packed panniers above a growling Akrapovic …


  8. Matt says:

    re: Paulo, the point wasn’t that ‘nobody == 0′ but that it was a tiny, tiny number as to be the tail of the curve. And just because some customers are crazy enough to bring an inappropriate tool to the job because they can or the have the skill to overcome it’s limitations doesn’t make it suitable for the vast majority who do buy it. Good for you that you’re one of the young cohort and that there are fellow motor-heads crazy enough to take the BMW everywhere. Either way you’re outliers. Ads are targetted at mainstream, and there’s no way even 30% would venture off the pavement let alone into the wild lands.

  9. SBPilot says:


    Your arguments are completely redundant. You think everyone (and I don’t actually mean everyone, but the “majority” you talk about) that buy sport bikes take them to the track, where they were designed to be? You think people who have sportbikes can even squeeze 30% of their capabilities out of the bike? You think people who buy BMW M3′s, Ferrari 458 actually use even 20% of it’s capabilities?

    Get a bloody grip with reality, the free market, consumerism, consumption. I may not like it as much as you, but this is it what it is. Sure the R1200GS is designed to do one thing, but most of the buyers may not actually do it. That applies to nearly everything, hell, even those $120 basketball shoes you maybe wearing you’re not making the most of.

    When you advertise a product, a Ferrari, a M3, a Basketball shoe, or a R12000GS do you want to see some joe blow cruising around or walking around “hey, this car drives nice…” or “hey this shoe is comfy” or “yea this bike riding around town on asphalt is nice”. No, you want to see the cars on a track tail happy sliding around burning rubber, or have it sitting there at the side of a track in a picture esq setting. And you want some crazy basketball player doing dunks you couldn’t do if your life depended on it, and you want to see a bike you may want to buy in a super picture esq setting in a place you can’t be, but at least you know that bike you own perhaps could take you there.

    Marketing 101.

  10. SBPilot says:

    But, Matt, if you don’t want to see what a product can do in an advertisement, then it is you who is the outlier, not everyone else.

    This is why car reviews exist and journalism exists because these people are the ones who make a mundane lengthy layman review for the masses for those who care enough to read. And stats say most people don’t’ even bloody test drive a car before buying these days so guess what, it’s that 90 second ad or the amazing (“unrealistic”) picture that sells stuff these days.


  11. Interesting piece on marketing motorcycles, and the BMW GS launch: http://t.co/b3O5O6A2 from @Asphalt_Rubber

  12. Michael Hardman says:

    A&R – you wouldn’t happen to know what advertising agency created this ad?

  13. Axel says:

    Should be Serviceplan, Munich, as it is their lead agency.

  14. singletrack says:

    Jensen, I enjoy your commentary on motorcycle marketing techniques. And, I appreciate the opportunity to post comments, as there are very few forums for intelligent discussion about the motorcycle industry.

    You go on about the European brands and their ‘mastery’ of marketing. And I agree that the European brands generally ‘get it’, but BMW, Ducati, Triumph, KTM etc. all have limited product offerings, and similar demographics for all potential customers – ie mature enthusiasts.

    I take issue however with criticism of the Japanese brands and their perceived ‘weak’ marketing efforts. Sure they could do better, but I task you to show the world a consistent brand message for Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki or Suzuki motorcycles.

    Create an advertising plan that uses a consistent image or ‘feel’ or ‘emotion’ or make a ‘personal connection’ for an entry level commuter bike, and then do it for a Supersport bike, then for a cruiser, a Touring bike, then a Sport Touring bike, then for a motocrosser, then for a Scooter. And showing a stationary bike sitting in a romantic/scenic setting doesn’t count. Sometimes people just buy motorcycles, not ‘lifestyles’.

    If it were easy, they’d all be doing it.

  15. BMW Motorrad says:

    @Bob: Hello Bob, in one point you are absolutely right: The bike was very clean and very fresh, however, we did not think it too clean and too fresh and took it on an exciting ride anyway, as shown here in our video.


    It wasn’t so clean afterwards, but it sure was a lot of fun to ride. :-) Please watch more pics of the bike in motion on bmw-motorrad.com/gs. We’ll be releasing a Making-of-video shortly also.

    Best regards from your BMW Motorrad Team

  16. @BMW Motorrad:

    Thanks for the link to the YouTube video. Lovely!