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.

American Suzuki Expects 9.8% Sales Decrease for Fiscal Year

02/07/2012 @ 2:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

American Suzuki Expects 9.8% Sales Decrease for Fiscal Year 2012 Suzuki GSX R1000 EICMA 635x425

You know when a company starts quoting sales figures “in the last nine months of the year…” that the numbers from the first three months that they are not mentioning have to be pretty bad. Such is the case with American Suzuki, though the company’s overall performance continues to flounder in the this economy. In Suzuki’s fiscal nine-month period (April 2011 to December 2011), sales to North American dealers were up 160%, as wholesale unit sales to dealers rose from 13,000 units (mostly ATVs)  in 2010 to 34,000 units in 2011.

However despite shipping more models to dealers, Suzuki’s sales in North America were actually down 11.5%, as the Japanese company sold only 31,000 units in the nine-month period, compared to the 35,000 units it sold during the same fiscal period last year. Because of this dip in consumer sales, Suzuki has revised its sales predictions for the end of its fiscal year in North America from 50,000 units to 46,000 units. American Suzuki sold 51,000 units to consumers in 2010, meaning that for the 2011 fiscal year, Suzuki is expecting a 9.8% retail sales decline compared to last year.

Part of the reason for the increased shipments in 2011 to dealers despite the company’s continued tough retails sales is because of the virtual hold on shipments to dealers during the 2010 model year. Letting dealers clear out the backlog of Suzuki stock sitting on their showroom floors, Suzuki also delayed updating many of its models, which is surely accountable for its continued troubling sales progress. While potent machines in their own right, the mildly updated GSX-R600GSX-R750, & GSX-R1000 are going to have a tough time competing against the newer offerings from the other manufacturers.

While the rest of the motorcycle market appears to be bottoming out and even turning around, American Suzuki’s sales in the fourth quarter continued to plummet. Selling 7,000 units to consumers in Q4, American Suzuki retails sales were down 14% for the final quarter of the company’s fiscal calendar. There is no doubt that the recession hurt the Japanese manufacturers the most, an issue that was only compounded further by last year’s earthquake, nuclear fallout, and regional flooding. Hopefully 2012 has better fortune in store for the Japanese OEMs than 2011 did.

Source: Suzuki; Photo: © 2011 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

Comment:

  1. Shaitan says:

    No surprise there. I’ve been a Suzuki fan in the past, but they are currently making some of the fugliest bikes/paintjobs on the market and their freeze on some model updates didn’t help in 2010. When you get people to look elsewhere you lose brand loyalty. I know times are tough and the bikes themselves are great products, but Suzuki’s marketing and attitude toward US buyers has seemed rather vague lately. Then again, that’s true of many Japanese manufacturers the last 2 years, so it’s no wonder Triumph, BMW and Ducati are doing well in the States.

  2. MikeD says:

    As it SHOULD…honestly…what’s there to make u buy their product over someone else’s ?
    STILL DRAGGING/UNLOADING OLD INVENTORY when some of the others (KAWASAKI comes to mind quick) still try and put new “fresher” products out ? YUP…keep it up Suzuki…darn shame the creators of so many ground breaking products has fallen so low.

    Hopefully 2012 will bring some news/xciting products from them…they really need it.

  3. M Myers says:

    To quote the article “While potent machines in their own right, the mildly updated GSX-R600, GSX-R750, & GSX-R1000 are going to have a tough time competing against the newer offerings from the other manufacturers”

    That’s interesting as I believe that the model change last year (2011) to the 600 and 750 were the only such changes (and we’re talking a major overhaul) made to any middle class Japanese bike of the last few years. Oh and how about said 600 winning our AMA Daytona Sportbike Championship as well as the Supersport Championship. Just trying to shed a bit of factoid with regards to what’s been winning races and championships on our shores. The new GSXR600 is a fantastic machine, Just ask my daughter Elena what she thinks, she’d be glad to tell you :)

    Go Suzuki!

  4. Jay K says:

    I think of the DRZ400SM, a design they could have, and should have, updated when times were good, but they didn’t. Now they don’t have a competitive bike and they don’t have any money for R&D.

  5. MikeD says:

    M Myers says:
    That’s interesting as I believe that the model change last year (2011) to the 600 and 750 were the only such changes (and we’re talking a major overhaul) made to any middle class Japanese bike of the last few years. Oh and how about said 600 winning our AMA Daytona Sportbike Championship as well as the Supersport Championship. Just trying to shed a bit of factoid with regards to what’s been winning races and championships on our shores.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Ok. Fair enough…but did it worked out for them ? Aparently not. We(U.S.A) were far too SPOILED by themselves(OEMs) to just feel satisfied by some lite hardware changes and almost the same body shell.
    The bike can be a splendid dream to ride and what not(said the magz no too long ago)…but if it don’t call out to “Ricky Racer”(with no more easy credit) walking pass the dealership to go in and have a look at it then it has already lost round 1 of 2.
    It always comes to mind how they had a cool thing going on with the Stratosphere Concept and that never went beyond the MC Shows…for crying out loud! they even had a rolling Mule, there’s a video of it on YouTube.
    It still have me wondering how they never diversified themselves the way Kawi did…(0_O)?

    P.S: I own a Suzuki…and an old, outdated, overweight one at that…so no, no bias here.
    Their state is what it is…there’s no sugar coating a turd…it’ll still stink…so far anyways.

  6. KeithF says:

    I’m very happy with my 2011 GSX-R600, but I must admit the design is not the best in class. Looks are very subjective. In particular, I don’t like the headlights and swingarm.

    Fortunately, I didn’t make my purchase decision solely on how the bike looked. I liked the the fact it was newly redesigned and had great reviews. I don’t have any regrets…it’s performance, braking, and handling are fantastic. Secretly I desire the new MV Agusta F3…can’t wait to see it in person.

  7. MikeD says:

    This guy up there ^… one informed, secure of his manhood, smart, humble costumer…Suzuki could use many just like him. lol.

  8. Steve says:

    M Myers…

    It’s pretty simple really. If you are good like Suzuki is and your daughter is… but you find yourself struggeling to be at the front and win (or sell motorcycles) on a consistent basis, you figure out a way to get there. You go to the gym. You practice more. You get faster You find out what others are doing with success and you get to the front. You don’t sit on your laurels and wine about it.

    Let’s take Eslick as an example. As far as Eslick winning the championship on a Suzuki, he won because he has a good bike, great team and is a talented, tough, fast as hell, never give up young man, not because he rode a Suzuki. Luck didn’t hurt him either. I would like to see your daughter do nothing but succeed but as far as asking your daughter anything about her Suzuki…I think I’ll pass. Besides, I see she has busy at the gym. Good for her! and best of luck at Daytona and the new season.

  9. Scooter says:

    It is no wonder there sales are down. Suzuki has one of the worst warranties in the world. It is like pulling teeth to get warranty service as they pull every trick in the book to avoid you. No model updates in years and they expect to sell units. The local Suzuki dealer here is also a Harley dealer and they prefer to sell to guys in the pirate outfits so they ignore a Suzuki customer.

  10. Damo says:

    I wouldn’t mind it, as long as they cut prices to make them more competitive. The problem is their models ARE NOT being updated, yet their prices are.

    That is the issue.

  11. B.T. says:

    Sad to say, but I think the end is near for Suzuki! You always have to blame Mngmt. I bike in Supercross, none in MOTOGP!! Suzuki! You broke my heart!!

  12. AK says:

    I never saw anyone buying brand new Suzuki in past 5 years. Most of people buy used cause they are cheap(at least in Indy). Pretty much every African American dude owns a Suzuki; not throwing a race card. I don’t really know what else to say about it.

  13. AC says:

    I’m a Duc guy but the ’11 GSX-R600 I rode was a great middleweight bike. Not terribly expensive, either. Just an attractive little package.

    Rather than charging ahead, Suzuki seems to be battening down the hatches which is actually hurting them more.

    The Japanese brands in general need to do a better job of injecting some heritage into their brands. There’s a reason you see so many Duc and Triumph guys buying the bikes, then the apparel…it’s similar to buying an Apple product in so many ways. People want products that make them feel cool. The Japanese brands don’t do this well even though their product is fine.

  14. KeithF says:

    @AC – I agree, Ducati has done an excellent job at building their brand image.

  15. First, I’m a BIG Elena Myers fan, I wish her (and her dad) all the best, was a real hoot she got to ride the GSV/R at Indy, you GO girl ! And please, Mr, Myers, DON’T let her cheapen her image (ala Danica) by cozying up to a sleazy ad campaign just for the money/sponsorship!!

    Suzi is a real conundrum . . . completely pulling the plug for 2010, replacing the SV650, not replacing it, or replacing it with that idiot Gladius. The Hayabusa is getting gray hair. The GSX/R’s are terrific, but the days when dealers could sell all they could get are over. The new VStrom isn’t the addressing of the updates the old one needed.

    All of the Japanese manufacturers, save Kawasaki, are reeling from the recession, the earthquake, and the weight of their other businesses. Suzi has closed close to a 100 auto dealerships in the US. Yamaha lost over a billion dollars just a few years ago. Honda was particularly rocked by the Japanese disaster, then to have their Thai production flooded out a year ago. Only Kawi, for who motorcycles are almost a boutique business alongside their large capital industries, seem to have a bead on where they’re going, and good on them for continuing to support the 250 and 650 Ninjas.

    I have no doubt they’ll regain their footing, but it’s been breathtaking to watch. They’re all going to have to find their way, and the usual menu of supersports and Harley clones and cheap dirtbikes just isn’t going to be a viable business model into the future. Here’s to seeing what develops!