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 Taps Flextronics for Global Production and Assembly Strategic Partnership

09/15/2010 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Brammo Taps Flextronics for Global Production and Assembly Strategic Partnership Brammo Flextronics partnership Empulse 560x410

It’s hard to make strategic business partnership announcements sound sexy. Between all the hyperbole about how two companies are going to shift the industry paradigm and synergize the supply chain matrix, the average consumer’s eyes glaze over, and drool starts seeping out from the corners of their mouths. So bear with us on this one, because the announcement (or is the term Brammouncement?) of Brammo and Flextronics is an important one not only for the Ashland based company, but also for the electric motorcycle industry as a whole.

Some of the biggest problems facing any startup in the motorcycle industry are distribution and assembly. With the demand for electric motorcycles being a global issue, electric motorcycle startups, which are based primarily in the United States, have to not only grow their businesses domestically, but perhaps more importantly they need to foster a presence abroad in foreign markets.

With Europe and Asia easily out-pacing the demand in the US for electric transportation, an issue of contention for cash-strapped startups like Brammo has been how to grow globally and effectively with their limited budgets. The solution in this case for Brammo, is partnering with Flextronics, and using their scalable global production facilities.

“As Brammo pursues its international growth strategy it is critical to our success that we continue to build our strong reputation for quality, reliability and serviceability,” said Craig Bramscher, CEO and Founder of Brammo, Inc. “Flextronics is focused on providing a high quality end-to-end solutions approach to leading global companies, including automotive, and this is why we have selected them as our strategic manufacturing partner. We can now scale globally with the demand and the rapid evolution of this growth industry.”

By partnering with Flextronics, Brammo can not only outsource its assembly needs to a facility that can scale to their changing product demands, but they also gain a production presence at the doorstep of every global market they want to enter. Unless you’re a hardcore geek, you probably haven’t heard about Flextronics (it’s just a tiny company that did $24 billion in revenue last year); however it’s a virtual guarantee that there is at least one Flextronics-built device in your house right now, with the Singapore-based company taking contracts from LG, Verizon, Lego, Motorola, HP, Microsoft, and yes even Apple to build their electronic devices.

Building off Brammo’s idea that electric motorcycles have more in common with consumer electronic goods than their gasoline burning brethren, Flextronics as the global leader of consumer electronics production seems like a perfect fit. Allowing Brammo to have an in-country assembly plant in 30 countries across the globe, Flextronic’s multi-country automotive division creates not only a shortened supply chain to the consumer, but also establishes a domestic point of contact for service and support for international customers.

For Brammo the end result is a super-efficient production and assembly solution, that not only reduces overall costs, but also allows the Ashland company to go global without the tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars it would have taken to do it alone.

In all the move is a pretty savvy one, as it allows the small Oregonian company to focus on its core competencies of researching and developing new products at its Ashland headquarters, while handing off complicated and sophisticated production issues to Flextronics, whose complimentary skill sets can successfully handle Brammo’s production needs.

Source: Brammo


  1. Brammofan says:

    Nice write up, Jensen. Now that they have the acquisition and assembly taken care of, they just need to a little extra help on distribution. Hmmm.

  2. Thanks Harry. From what Craig tells me, Brammo will be looking for a dealer presence going forward, along with the Best Buy distribution plan.

  3. Brammo Taps Flextronics for Global Production and Assembly Strategic Partnership – http://bit.ly/aactNK #motorcycle

  4. Brammofan says:

    Brammo Taps Flextronics for Global Production and Assembly Strategic Partnership http://bit.ly/dxc7ei

  5. ML says:

    Are they still shooting for the $10K range? Will it come in different models?

  6. Brammofan says:

    Yes, ML, the Empulse 6.0 is still listed for $9995 on the pre-order. And yes, 3 different models, based on battery capacity – 6.0 – avg. 60 mile range, 8.0 – 80 miles, and 10.0 – 100 miles.

  7. Steveo says:

    Just a thought because I am not an electrical engineer, but because most riders are fair weather only, could any weight be given to adding small solar panels to fenders and fairings to regenerate battery life either while parked or continuous giving the bike a recharge without necesitating a plug?

    I know the efficency and weight suck especially with high voltage current but it would decrease one problem of being stranded even if it did take 8 hrs to recharge?

  8. Brammofan says:

    @Steveo – it would take a solar panel the size of a carport roof to recharge the battery of even the Empulse 6.0 in 8 hours. Solar PV technology is improving, along with battery energy density, but we still have a ways to go to achieve the kind of performance you envision.

  9. Steveo says:

    i realize the tech was probably not there yet. but with time comes innovations same with battery density, efficiency = weight.

    In all honesty I am considering a Brammo I have a 8 Mile commute, I ride an SV, I could track the SV, and get a brammo take the tax credit get a new bike and ride that and be pretty happy. I am not an early innovator in marketing terms, i am more of a see some results then buy. *especially being a gas engine mechanic*

  10. Brammofan says:

    I’ve got a 20+ mile round-trip commute and my Enertia handles it easily, with no mid-day charging at work. Depending on which state you live in, you may have more incentives available to you than just the Federal tax credit.

  11. Hey Steveo you can offset the Empulse’s electricity consumption quite economically with solar panels! (Not on the bike itself though) I did a whole blog entry on the subject and even put together a calculator that shows you how many panels you will need based on several variables such as monthly commute. Take a look: http://www.empulsebuyer.com/pvCalculator.php

    Offsetting gas costs with solar electricity helps pay for the solar investment in no time! Like 3-4 years!