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.

Brammo Launches Dirt Bike Product Line – Features Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET)

05/04/2011 @ 4:00 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Brammo Launches Dirt Bike Product Line   Features Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET) Brammo Engage 635x423

Well it didn’t take us long to get to the bottom of the reason as to why Brammo will be racing at the AMA Mini Moto SX in Las Vegas this week, as we speculated the Ashland-based company has got dirt bikes on the mind, and today is launching its dirt/supermoto line of electric motorcycles. Debuting with the full-sized Brammo Engage MX & Supermoto, along with the Brammo Encite MMX mini moto, Brammo has a robust off-road offering to its name now.

Behind the new product launch is another big step in the electric motorcycle industry, as the Oregonian company is debuting its new Brammo Engage and Brammo Encite motorcycles with an Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET). Developed by Italian engineering firm S.M.R.E., the IET is basically a six-speed gearbox designed specifically for use on electric motorcycles, and should help lure current ICE rides to the dark side of electrification. With today’s news, we think someone just put Zero Motorcycles on notice.

Brammo Launches Dirt Bike Product Line   Features Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET) SMRE Integrated Electronic Transmission 635x484

The Italian firm has been developing this transmission technology on a mini moto and supermoto prototypes for over a year, and now those pre-production models appear to have become the basis Brammo Engage and Brammo Encite prototype motorcycles. S.M.R.E.’s Integrated Electric Transmission technology is being labelled as a mechatronic propulsion unit (whatever that really means), and mimics the feeling and performance of a traditional internal combustion engine and transmission. According to the company’s specs, the IET unit is capable of regenerative braking, which would be another first for the Ashland compan, and sought-after feature by enthusiasts.

S.M.R.E. in the past has touted its design as being able to reduce the need for larger batteries, as it keeps the electric motor in a more efficient state as speeds increase. Brammo is touting the electric motor and transmission as enabling the Brammo Engage and Brammo Encite to accelerate hard from the line and reach a high top speed, which the company says isn’t possible with a single-ratio electric motorcycle. Of course Brammo touts the single-ratio design as a feature on its Enertia sport bike, so which side of the coin the Oregon company is landing on could be debated. We’ll have to wait for a response from Mr. Brian Wismann, Director of Product Development at Brammo, for that explanation.

As we reserve our judgment about that debate until we get to swing a leg over an IET-enabled Engage or Encite, the technology is intriguing, and at the very least will appeal to current motorcyclists who are accustomed to shifting a motor, operating a clutch, and grinning ear-to-ear. For this reason alone, Brammo’s partnership with S.M.R.E. might be worth its weight in euros gold, as we’re slowly watching Brammo shift (pun intended) from novice/non-motorcycle buyers, to current motorcyclists as its target demographic. Interesting things all around, but there’s no word yet if the Integrated Electronic Transmission will make its way onto other Brammo products, like the Enertia and Empulse.

Brammo is taking pre-orders on its Engage and Encite motorcycles, though we haven’t gotten word on when they will be going into production and made available. The Oregonian company has hinted at an upcoming dealer network announcement, which is likely being helped by this latest news of a more complete and full motorcycle line-up. Pricing on the new Brammos is as follows:

  • Engage MX – Full-sized dirt bike competing in MiniMotoSX – Anticipated Price $9,995
  • Engage SMR – Supermoto Racing – Anticipated Price $9,995
  • Engage SMS – Supermoto – Anticipated Price $11,995
  • Encite MMX PRO – Mini-dirtbike competing in MiniMotoSX – No Price Announced

Be sure to check out our coverage on the Brammo Engage and Brammo Encite with this news break as well.

Photos of the Pre-Production Brammo Dirt Bike Prototypes:

Source: Brammo

Comment:

  1. BikePilot says:

    Cool, but I fear they might be missing the boat. Dirt bikes really struggle as it is to carry enough fuel to get adequate range and power – more so than street bikes. I think this might be the most challenging possible application for an e-bike until batteries can pack the same amount of potential for forward thrust per unit volume as a dead T-Rex.

    Where Brammo could really make huge strides is with an e-trials bike and this could provide a great platform to transition to a trail bike oriented toward the light, technical side of things.

    Trials bikes have a few advantages for an e-bike maker – they require very little power and are operated primarily at very low percentages of their peak power. They aren’t expected to have much range and they must have very controllable power delivery. For example my HRC-built Montesa carries about 2 liters of fuel (at best) to keep its 250cc two stroke motor spinning and, reportedly, makes 17hp at full tilt. I can essentially ride all day on those two liters as trials riding is so slow you don’t need a lot of energy from the bike.

    Another advantage comes from the business perspective. Trials bikes are currently made only by very small companies in small quantities. It’d be much easier for another small company, dealing in small volume production to be competitive in this market than in the dirt bike market where you’ve gotta compete with the Big Five (or Six or Seven depending on how you count…). Trials bikes sell for as much if not more than full blown MX racers, but have comparatively simple engines and suspensions – surely lower-cost to manufacture for a given economy of scale.

    Of course the difficulty is that the market for them isn’t huge, at least not at the moment. Even so, Brammo might do better to succeed in one small market than fail miserably in a larger market. Success in trials would help the concept of e-bikes gain acceptance and, as battery technology makes an e-dirt bike feasible, Brammo would be well poised to capture that market as well.

    Whatever the case, the transmission and clutch is encouraging and likely key to off road success. Its unlikely that sufficient control over thrust could be obtained without a clutch, particularly for technical riding where taking advantage of stored kinetic energy in the flywheel tends to be the focus rather than applying power via the throttle as its needed. Just watch (and listen) to how a rider controls a trials bike when hitting a kicker for a big splatter. Of course the clutch is absolutely critical to be able to shut down quickly enough as well (provided that there’s at least some modest rotating inertia in the drive system/motor).

  2. Ed Gray says:

    I am shocked at the lack of study of standard practice. The countershaft sprocket is much too far from the swingarm pivot. When designing from first principles this is an easy target now it may be an expensive fix. I am also concerned by the relative location of the foot pegs to the swingarm pivot, which seems quite different from SOP.

  3. Is this the reason that the Empulse has been delayed until 2012???